When sashimi appears on your plate, it probably seems like an extremely simple dish. After all, it’s just a collection of small slices of fish flesh. However, the craft of making sashimi is still one that requires a lot of practice to do correctly.
An itamae-in-training needs to learn how to slice fish with superior precision. As easy as it may be to cut a bit of fish flesh, not everyone can do it with the kind of grace it takes to make for an attractive dish. The tenderness of fish flesh causes it to break easily, so a chef needs to be able to cut with less force to produce clean, straight, aesthetically-pleasing sashimi.
Further, a skilled itamae needs to have a heightened sense of how a fish tastes. They need to be able to know, at a glance, how a piece of sashimi should be cut in order to get the best of its particular flavors. Certain parts of the tuna, for example, benefits from thick cuts to bring out its taste. The tuna belly, on the other hand, needs to be cut thinner so as to not overwhelm the diner.