Learn About Sashimi, the Fresh Japanese Delicacy

Sashimi plate fresh raw fish presented by Osaka Japanese Bistro
Have you run across sashimi fans who tell you how much they love eating raw fish on a plate and wondered what was so special about it? If you’re a sushi fan, chances are you’ve encountered sashimi at a sushi bar. But what do you know about this distinctly Japanese and very special delicacy? We’d like to share some facts about sashimi so you’ll be able to really appreciate it next chance you get to sample it at your favorite Japanese sushi restaurant.

Sashimi is a traditional Japanese dish of carefully selected and sliced raw food. It is mostly served as thinly sliced fresh fish. However, other meats such as beef can also be served as sashimi, although this is rare in authentic Japanese restaurants. Some people confuse sashimi and sushi even though the difference is a simple one: sashimi is a piece of raw fish while sushi is sashimi (raw fish) accompanied by vinegared rice.

Origin of Sashimi

The eating of sashimi can be traced to the 14th century. The term means “pierced body.” (The more accurate term would have been Kirimi (“cut body”) but the Japanese avoided it so as not to use the word ‘Kiri,” meaning “cut” which is considered a bad word.) Sashimi eating became popular in the Tokyo region in the 17th century as fishing techniques became more advanced and the arrival of the use of soy sauce helped enhance its flavor and popularize it more widely.  To properly prepare and enjoy sashimi, the fish must be completely fresh in order to retain its delicate flavor and for food safety.

How to eat Sashimi

Most Japanese people are introduced to sashimi at a very young age. Foreigners may, however, take a while to get accustomed to the taste and texture of raw fish. Because it can be an acquired taste, condiments are a common accompaniment to sashimi, even in Japan, enhancing the overall taste experience and reducing the fish taste to only its best and most delicate flavors.

Spearing the fish in the head and tail is a traditional way of identifying the fish that will be served.

Osaka sashimi aji speared fish indicating fresh and ready to eat

A common garnish is called tsuma, which consists of pieces of perilla leaves, seaweed, and daikon radish. They are usually cut into pretty shapes though they are always eaten together with the sashimi. Other edible wild plants, vegetables, and flowers are also used as garnishes.

Some types of the sashimi are eaten with a bit if horseradish (wasabi) or ground ginger, plums and mustard paste (karashi). The dish is often seasoned with soy sauce in which the diner dips a piece of the meat before eating. It is good practice to take only as much sauce as needed as the flavor may overwhelm the taste of the fish.

Popular types of sashimi

The sashimi served in most Japanese restaurants is purely seafood. Meaning, it is either from fish, roe or other sea animals such as octopus, shrimp, and jellyfish. Some popular types of this delicious Japanese dish are:

Maguro

Maguro is sashimi prepared from tuna. It is on the menu of nearly all restaurants that serve sashimi. The whole fish is edible, but the price of the sashimi dish varies depending on the fat content of each part. The lean, firm, and fleshy red flanks or akami are the cheapest. The most expensive part is the meat from tuna’s fatty belly, toro. It is available in two grades based on the fat content, chutoro, which is the medium grade and otoro, the premium grade.

Sake or shake

Shake is salmon-based sashimi and is common in many Japanese restaurants. The delicious bright orange fatty belly is also called salmon toro in many menus.

Tai Sashimi

fresh sliced aji sashimi presented by Osaka Japanese Bistro

Sea bream or tai, is the best white-fleshed fish in Japan. In sashimi cuisine, tai is often served during celebrations such as New Year’s and weddings. To the Japanese, it is symbolic of new beginnings.

Other Popular Types of Sashimi

Other fish that are served as sashimi include mackerel (saba), skipjack tuna or bonito (katsuo), and amberjack (kanpachi). Sashimi is also prepared form squid (ika), shrimp (amaebi), and octopus (tako). The highly prized jellyfish, kurage. is also served as sashimi.

Another option is caviar or salmon roe (ikura).

ikura fresh sashimi roe

Uni Sashimi: A Rare Delicacy

The most expensive roe-based sashimi is the uni (sea urchin roe). It has a creamy, buttery texture and a sweet, briny flavor. Uni is the edible part of the sea urchin and has to be carefully harvested as the meat tends to fall apart. It is also a seasonal item and so is only available for part of the year, generally late fall and winter.

Osaka Japanese Bistro in Las Vegas for Authentic Japanese Sashimi

With our award-winning staff and authentic, traditional recipes and preparation method, Osaka Japanese Bistro offers the best fresh sashimi outside Japan. As the oldest Japanese restaurant in Las Vegas, we specialize in offering a broad menu as well as carefully selected and hard to find fresh fish from Japan to create authentic tastes and textures hard to find anywhere else. We even offer uni sashimi when it is in season and of the high quality we demand. Our sushi is enjoyed not only in our restaurants, but is the preferred catered sushi at many top Las Vegas casino buffets and restaurants who we supply daily with top quality fresh sushi, as well as sashimi and nigiri selections. For the very best in Japanese cuisine, stop in next time you’re in Las Vegas for a plate of fresh sashimi or nigiri and delicious sushi rolls.

 

What is Yakitori?

Yakitori: Japan’s Favorite “Fast Food”?

young girl traveler enjoying delicious grilled yakitori chicken skewers on street market in Japan

Think: grilled chicken on a skewer. Whether it’s early morning or late evening or some time in between, it’s the craving you did not know you had. Until now. Yakitori, which basically is the Japanese term for “grilled chicken,” is Japan’s version of mouth-watering barbecued chicken. Secured on a wooden skewer prior to cooking, the chicken is grilled to perfection a variety of forms.

yakitori skewered grilled chicken dish displayed on plate

But this gastronomic delight is not just about taste, but  also culture.

Yakitori and Japanese Culture

Chicken was once a luxury in Japan, going back to the Meiji Restoration period, starting around 1868. The Meiji era brought huge change, including change to the Japanese diet – the addition of meat. Chicken meat was regarded as a luxury, and greatly prized.

At the same time, small stalls selling skewered fish and vegetables outside temples were already popular. Capitalizing on the demand for chicken, the first chicken kebab shop was installed outside temples. But chicken was still expensive, and the owners of these small stalls could not afford chicken meat, so they used chicken carcass or gristle they found dumped outside higher-end restaurants. This cheap but tasty version of chicken made via the popular skewering methods became a favorite. The rest is history as they say, and yakitori was cultivated to become a diverse variety of tastes and textures, becoming one of Japan’s favorite snacks.

Yakitori in Japan

japanese chicken grill Yakitori set with leeks

Yakitori in Japan is prepared and enjoyed in various ways today. The kind of yakitori is generally named after the part of the chicken used, from thighs and breast meat to gristle and cartilage to hearts and liver. Some popular types include:

  • Negima. Pieces of chicken thigh meat skewered and adorned with pieces of leek in between each piece of chicken. Negima is one of the most popular types of yakitori in Japan today.
  • Momo. This is simply pieces of skewered chicken thigh meat.

japanese meatball grill or tsukune cooked with teriyaki sauce ready to eat

  • Tsukune. Tsukune is a type of yakitori least reminiscent of yakitori’s history, but is popular today in Japan. It is a mix of minced chicken, egg, vegetables and spices skewered on a stick as several small meatballs.

Chicken skin grilled with charcoal fire in Japanese style call torikawa or yakitori serve in izakaya food restaurant.

 

  • Torikawa. Maybe the most reminiscent of the first grilled chicken in the small stalls outside temples, torikawa are strips of fatty chicken skin grilled until crispy.
  • Nankotsu. Also reminiscent of the first chicken kebab stalls, nankotsu is skewered, crunchy cartilage with minimal chicken.

Japanese restaurants and their chefs enjoy experimenting with this traditional food with different spices and sauces. But different meats can also be used, like seafood, beef, and pork. In addition to some of these tasty yakitori snacks are other kebabs that complement these chicken kebabs, like asparagus bacon, green onion, shitake mushroom, green peppers, eggplant, and shrimp. Beer and sake are often enjoyed and paired with specific types of yakitori. Traditionally, these kebabs are gilled on a rectangular clay box, only two feet long and a few inches wide. As such, the kebabs are small and delightful, and thus: snack-ish foods. But they can also be grilled using a tabletop hibachi or a teppanyaki grill – those hot steel plates forming the center of a table at many Japanese restaurants.

Enjoy Yakitori at Osaka Japanese Bistro

chicken yakitori and other skewered grilled delicacies from Osaka teppan yaki grill displayed on plate ready to eat

At Osaka Japanese Bistro in Las Vegas we prepare authentic Japanese dishes, using recipes from Japan. Osaka Japanese Bistro provides a Teppan grill menu of all the famous Japanese dishes you could imagine, from sushi to tempura to soba to teriyaki to yakitori. Of course we have an extensive variety of yakitori dishes to tempt your palate. At our teppanyaki grill and on our kitchen menu, you will find a variety of yakitori flavors:

  • Mi, which is thigh meat… that juicy, meaty part of the chicken.
  • Shiro Me, which is white meat… that healthier, tastier part of the chicken.
  • Suna Gimo, which is gizzards… that twisted, chewy part of the chicken.
  • Reba or kimo, which is the liver… that deep, sumptuous part of the chicken.
  • Sinzo, which is the heart… that rich and hearty part of the chicken.
  • Torikawa, which is the skin… that crispy part of the chicken.
  • Tebasaki, which is the wing… a favorite part among chicken-lovers.

If you are in the mood for something tasty and fun, something that can be either a snack or turned into a meal, then try yakitori. There’s nothing quite like it, and it’s available close to you at Osaka Japanese Bistro, just off the Strip in Las Vegas and in nearby Henderson, NV. Come in and enjoy today.

What Do Japanese Eat for Breakfast?

We can all agree that breakfast is an essential meal in all cultures. Most people look for energy-packed nutrition that’s quick and easy to fix so they can get on with the day’s work. That’s why a warm, filling bowl of oatmeal is a common breakfast dish in Western culture. The Japanese take a wise and practical approach to breakfast. A look at Japanese breakfast traditions reveals a people who ensure that the day’s first meal has all the nutrients the body needs.

Japanese Breakfasts Packed with Nutrition

Japanese breakfast in bento box. Top view of classic japanese breakfast

Here is a look into some  traditional Japanese breakfast dishes and how they contribute to a nutritious start to the day.

Fortify with Carbohydrates

Japanese rice porridge breakfast food (okayu)

The main carbohydrate source in Japanese cuisine is white rice (hakumai) or brown rice (genmai), and that includes for breakfast. The rice is steamed for a simple breakfast meal, gohan. Sometimes the rice is used to prepare okayu, a rice porridge, a favorite of kids and adults alike. It is usually served with pickled plums prepared with vegetables (tsukemono) or shiso leaves (umeboshi). Other additions to the porridge might be dried bonito or skipjack tuna shavings (katsuobushi) and seasoned kelp or seafood (tsukudani).

Protein for Sustained Energy

Unadulterated, high-quality proteins, rich in omega 3 and 6, are of primary importance to Japanese diners. As an island culture, the traditional source of protein in the Japanese culture is fish (yakizana). For a protein-rich breakfast dish, boiled or pan-cooked freshly caught fish is often seasoned with salt only.

Poultry proteins also play a central part in traditional Japanese breakfast. One popular dish is the tamagoyaki, which is an expertly prepared, rolled and presented egg omelette.

tamagoyaki egg omelette Japanese breakfast food

The Japanese are also known for their preference for plant-based dishes. Miso soup (misoshiru) and fermented soybeans (natto) are some of the traditional bean-based breakfast dishes that have withstood the test of time.

Nutritious Fruits and Vegetables

Carbs and proteins form a large part of the Japanese breakfast. However, it also has a significant share of vegetables and fruits. Traditional breakfast in the Japanese culture was served with ajitsuke nori, which is seasoned and dried seaweed. Other vegetables (kobachi) and fruits such as bananas also are part of the breakfast plan.

Four Everyday Japanese Breakfasts

1. Gohan

Plain, steamed rice is the core of the traditional breakfast meal. It can be white or brown rice, and usually accompanies the protein servings. It comes together with some other side dishes and salads to make a complete breakfast.

2. Miso Shiru

This common traditional Japanese soup is prepared from a paste of fermented soybeans, miso together with a dashi broth. It comprises of ingredients such as chopped green onions, tofu, wakame seaweed, Japanese mushrooms and deep fried tofu (aburaage).

Miso soup rice and pickled vegetables breakfast dishes

Most Japanese households prepare miso soup from scratch, starting with the soy and dashi broth. However, there are instant miso soup packets, and dashi infused soy paste that only requires addition of water.

3. Natto

osaka bistro small dish of natto fermented bean dish

The fermented soybeans are a staple Japanese breakfast food. The protein-rich food is an acquired taste as it is very aromatic and stringy. Spicy mustard (karashi), dried bonito shavings, seasoned seaweed (kizami nori) and chopped green onions are some of the ingredients that can be used to prepare natto. Natto can also be purchased ready to eat in many Asian and Japanese food stores.

4. Tamago Kake Gohan

Tamago kake gohan or Tamago gohan for short,japanese food.

It is a special breakfast meal that delivers both protein and carbohydrate in the same bowl. The steamed rice is topped with a raw egg and soy sauce seasoning together with salt. It is not only delicious but also easy to prepare.

Popular Western Breakfast Foods

osaka bistro breakfast pancake dish with sweet bean paste and syrup

The Japanese breakfast table has evolved to incorporate western breakfast options such as bread, toasts, tea, and coffee. Nevertheless, they still opt for a high-energy option such as a thick Shokupan toast with jam. Shokupan is fluffy white bread with a soft texture.

Enjoy Traditional Japanese Breakfast Dishes at Osaka Japanese Bistro

Traditionally prepared, the Japanese breakfast is a delicious and well-balanced meal that supports the old saying that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. For the Japanese, the goal is not to have a full plate, but rather a nutritious and healthy meal before facing the day’s hard knocks.

Osaka Japanese Bistro, Las Vegas has always offered a huge menu of traditional Japanese dishes, including popular dishes also enjoyed at breakfast like premium cut broiled fresh fish, ika natto, miso soup and tamagoyaki egg omelette. Visit us anytime for lunch, dinner or a late night meal and enjoy our extensive menu of authentic Japanese dishes, the best and freshest fish, flown in fresh from Japan for our award-winning sushi and our lively, sizzling hot and expertly prepared teppanyaki grill experience, in Las Vegas just off the Strip and in Green Valley, Henderson. Come see us when you are in town!