Whenever my husband and I enjoy a simple dinner of sashimi or temaki sushi (click for recipe) at home, I am always reminded of my Jiichan (grandpa), and my Baachan (grandma). (Photo: Halibut or Fluke, also known as hirame in Japanese.)
Although my paternal grandparents moved to Japan before I completed elementary school, over the years, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with them during my trips to the “land of the rising sun”. While I spent a decent amount of time traveling across Japan and seeing its many wonders, often my visits centered around spending time with family and relaxing at my home away from home. As a child, the Japanese snacks and frozen treats were always something to look forward to, but as I matured, the food became increasingly important during my trips to Japan. While I’ve dined at high-end restaurants and enjoyed phenomenol traditional Japanese multi-course kaiseki ryori, fine desserts, specialty tempura dinners, as well as off beat vegetarian mountain cuisine (feel free to ask me about this) and hole-in-the-wall joints for ramen and okonomiyaki to die for, what I remember the most about my trips to Japan is the endless amount of fresh sashimi that my grandparents always ate, practically on a nightly basis.
Regardless of the season during which I visited my grandparents, an abundance of sashimi (in addition to many cooked dishes) was always available on their dinner table. I look back now, and appreciate how fortunate I was to enjoy such lavish sashimi dinners almost nightly, in the comfort of my grandparents home. (Photo: Hamachi or yellowtail.)
In my youth, I never appreciated sashimi and considered cooked ebi (shrimp) or blanched tako (octopus) the closest things I would ever get to eating sashimi, but as we all know, our tastes mature with age. I am no different.
It must have been in high school where I began trying different sashimi and sushi at the encouragement of my parents… Then, during my first job out of college working for a Japanese company, I was fortunate to travel to Japan for work, and I came to know the true meaning of fresh, extremely high quality sashimi and sushi… A sushi – sashimi snob was born… Then there was the era of earning enough money to try many sushi bars in my former playground of Los Angeles and indulge in fine sushi dinners… (Photo: Pre-sliced, assorted sashimi sourced from a local Japanese market.)
Today, sushi is reserved for when my husband and I occasionally dine out (without the kids) and sashimi is something my husband and I enjoy at home. However, the kids don’t eat sashimi, so I am always a bit hesitant to make a sashimi dinner for us as I am then required to make a secondary dish for the kiddies or provide a temaki sushi (click for recipe) spread complete with many cooked ingredients and vegetables. It’s not something we eat regularly.
However, whenever we do enjoy a nice sashimi dinner at home, I am always reminded of my grandparents and the time I’ve spent in Japan or the simple sashimi dinners my Mom prepared in my youth.
- Kaiware radish sprouts, thinly sliced daikon (radish), or thinly sliced cucumbers for garnish, optional
- Soy sauce
- Wasabi (Japanese horseradish)
- Use any of your favorite fish or seafood for sashimi. Always select fresh sashimi with vibrant fresh color and clear liquid, if any, from a reputable supermarket. Sashimi should not smell "fishy", but rather, like fresh fish. The flesh of the sashimi should be resilient and "bounce back" so-to-speak if pressed. It should never be mushy or seem stagnant. Most Japanese supermarkets clearly identify sashimi-grade fillets of fish versus those that are meant to be cooked.
- If the sashimi is not pre-sliced, always use an extremely sharp knife. (My Dad has the sharpest sashimi knives ever and he maintains them meticulously.) Slice the fish against the grain in one single motion of the knife, pulling the knife towards you. Never slice the fish in a "see-saw" back and forth cutting motion as this ruins the delicate flesh of the sashimi.
- Arrange sashimi on a plate and garnish with kaiware daikon sprouts, thinly sliced daikon (radish) or thinly sliced cucumbers. Serve with soy sauce or specialty sashimi soy sauce (often thicker and sweeter than regular soy sauce) and wasabi.