Category Archives: Did You Know?

Learning the Basics: Sashimi vs Sushi

Sashimi and Sushi 101

Sashimi and sushi are two of Japan’s most renown dishes, too famous to ignore especially if you are a foodie, an international foodie, much more. Some people uninitiated in the way of Japanese cuisine may be turned away due to the “rawness” associated with these foods. Others may not be so adventurous, being hooked up in their usual, prefered tastes, not too willing to try. Hence, if only for the fact that the experience of eating these Japanese delicacies are missed opportunities for the foodie, one can start off by really knowing them. One must try these delicacies at least once, but first how are sashimi and sushi different from one another?

Differences Between Sashimi and Sushi

Some people confuse one with the other. Sushi is a very popular Japanese dish, compared to sashimi and specialized chefs make them. Sashimi is thinly sliced raw meat (usually fish, such as salmon or tuna) served without rice. Sushi is not raw fish, but vinegared rice mixed with other ingredients, which may or may not include raw fish. On the other hand, sashimi always contains fresh raw meat or seafood. Where cooking is concerned, sashimi is never cooked; it is always raw. Sushi is not usually cooked, but some varieties include cooked ingredients.

Sushi can be eaten as it is, but is often dipped into a Japanese soy sauce which is called ‘shoyu’. Sashimi is only served with a dipping sauce, with wasabi paste mixed in in most cases. The sliced seafood is typically draped over a garnish, which is mostly the daikon radish.

What are the most common types of sashimi and sushi? For sashimi, there’s tuna, salmon, mackerel, yellowtail, squid or octopus, shrimp, scallops, and clams. For sushi, there’s nigiri, gunkan (or ‘battleship’ sushi), temaki (nori seaweed “cones” containing seafood and vegetables), and norimaki (sushi rolls).

For nutritional value, sashimi presents various health benefits depending on type of fish or meat. Fish-based sashimi is high in omega-3 fatty acids which has been studied to bring down the risk of heart disease, battle rheumatoid arthritis and depression, lower the inflammatory processes in asthma, help in the neurological and visual development in children and reduce the symptoms associated with ADHD, and may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, among others. On the other hand, sushi has more calories and carbs than sashimi does because of its rice. Sushi that contains fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids. While both sushi and sashimi are healthy foods, sashimi is healthier.

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Every Region in Japan And Its Best Local Dish

A Culinary Journey Through The Regions

Many Japanese dishes have global reputations already, and there are those quite specific to a certain region in Japan. Each of Japan’s 11 regions is famous for a specific specialty cuisine. Here are the 11 regions from North to South: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Hokuriku, Koshinetsu, Tokai, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. See the dish that each is famous for.

Hokkaido is the most northern and is popular for its seafood, like sea urchin and salmon. Sushi is the most famous, and also kaisen-don, which is sashimi on a bowl of rice. Hokkaido is also known for its fresh, quality vegetables. Another region is Tohoku, with its warm cuisines due to the coldness. Kiritanpo-nabe, tasty hot pot with kiritanpo, mashed rice, with different roots and vegetables can be found in Akita.

Kanto, where Tokyo is also located, Monja-yaki is the best local dish. It’s a dish cooked on a hot plate where all ingredients such as squid, cabbage and sweet corn are cooked together; halfway done a watery batter mix is added. The cooked parts can be eaten right off the plate while the rest can be later. Koshietsu area includes Yamanashi, Nagano, and Niigata prefecture, which get heavy snow. Their top dish is the famous warm food, Houtou in Yamanashi, similar to udon noodles, but flatter and chewy plus a soup.

Tokai is an area with warm temperature throughout the year. Mia prefecture is famous for Ise-Ebi, the Japanese spiny lobster. It is similar in taste with American lobsters but somewhat more delicate. Also famous is the Miso-Katsu, which is miso pork cutlet, especially in the Aichi prefecture where Nagoya is located. In Hokuriku region, in Kanazawa, there’s Jibu-ni. It’s thinly sliced duck meat coated in flour, simmered with vegetables shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and parsley. They are combined in a soup made of stock, rice wine, soy sauce and sake.

Kansai region, with Osaka in its center, is famous for okonomiyaki and takoyaki, fried octopus balls. Okonomiyaki is the Japanese version of pancake, with vegetables, pork slices and batter mixed together. Takoyaki are crispy balls topped with green laver, special sauce, sliced and dried bonito, or mayonnaise. Chugoku region, where Hiroshima is located, is famous for the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. It’s cooked differently – layered – with soba or udon added.

Honshu Shikoku are southern islands, famous for Sanuki Udon, wheat flour noodles, with a full taste and smooth texture. Kyushu region is famous for Chanpon, in Nagasaki prefecture; it’s a noodle dish with lots of vegetables. Southernmost is Okinawa with its tropical weather and famous for Goya Chanpuru, made with bittermelon (goya) tofu, vegetables, meat or fish.