Are you craving sashimi? Want to recreate this intricate dish at home? You should put on your apron and clean out your kitchen utensils because we’re here to arm you with the best sashimi cutting technique. The Japanese word “sashimi” literally translates to “pierced body.” The name itself is indicative of the precise cutting techniques that are used to make the dish.
Unless you’re a sushi or sashimi chef, you probably don’t know much about the slicing techniques used. You don’t have to stress anymore because we have a complete step-by-step guide on how to cut sashimi just for you. It may seem challenging at first, but with regular practice, you can become a pro at making sashimi in no time.
Before we move forward, let’s start with the basics first. Here are some tips that will help you develop your own sashimi cutting techniques.
How to Hold a Knife?
You probably think that the way you hold your knife doesn’t matter, but surprisingly, it does. Trust us when we say that paying attention to the way you hold your knife is the first step towards cutting sashimi like a pro.
Most people hold their kitchen knife by the handle. Although this isn’t incorrect, to further improve the accuracy and consistency of your cuts, try using your thumb and index finger to hold onto the base of the blade. It might seem a bit difficult to do, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see the difference yourself. You will have more control over the angle and precision of your cuts.
In addition to that, pay attention to the placement of your cutting hand. The cutting hand refers to the hand you use to hold the fish while cutting. When gripping onto the fish, your fingers should curl inwards, forming a paw.
Then, you can use your thumb, which should also be curled inwards, to stop the cutting board from moving while you slice through the fish. Your middle finger should also be perpendicular to the cutting board. By doing this, you can prevent accidentally cutting yourself.
A Tip from the Experts
Make sure the edge of your knife is below the knuckle of your middle finger to avoid cutting yourself. If you want your sashimi cuts to be delicate and precise, you need to have a sharp knife.
Although you can use a regular kitchen knife we suggest using either a Yanagi sashimi knife or a Tako sashimi knife depending on your preferences. Yanagi knives have long, thin, and sharp blades that are perfect for delicate slicing. While Tako knives are long and thin, they have a flat end that makes slicing easier.
Sashimi and Nigiri
People often confuse these two Japanese dishes when, truly, they are two different dishes. We thought we should quickly go over the two to avoid any confusion.
Sashimi is exclusively made of slices of raw seafood and is often served with condiments. Nigiri, like sashimi, also contains sliced seafood. However, nigiri is a type of sushi. The fish meat is served on top of a finger-shaped sushi rice ball.
Different Sashimi Cuts
Chefs in Japan use various cutting techniques to prepare sashimi. Here are some of the most popular sashimi cuts:
In this method, the knife is held at an angle to enable smooth strokes. The slices are thick and rectangular. This cut type is best for oily fishes like tuna, salmon, or kingfish.
The word usu-zukuri translates to fine cuts. These slices are so thin, they are almost transparent. The knife cuts across the grain diagonally to make rectangular slices for this method. This cut is common for white fish. Since the meat of white fish is harder, the thin slices make it easier to eat.
These slices are cut into squares and cubes. They are cut into 1.5- to two-centimeter sticks, which are further diced into smaller pieces. This method is great for fish with tender meat like tuna and bonito.
This method of preparation has induced quite a lot of controversy and interest. The reason for this is that a chef cuts and serves the dish while the fish is still alive. The sashimi is usually served to customers with the sliced meat decorated on top of the fish’s body.
Sashimi Cutting Technique: The Easy Way!
You’ll see quite a few fancy techniques used for slicing fish meat, but the easiest cutting technique to use at home is the hira-zukuri.
How to Cut Sashimi
Follow our step-by-step guide below if you want to learn how to cut sashimi like a pro.
Step 1: Choose Your Fish
The first and most important step is to pick out fresh, good quality fish. If you’ve purchased larger fish like tuna or kingfish, try getting fillets that are uniform and as wide as four fingers. On the other hand, if you have salmon, try using the upper half for sashimi.
Step 2: Clean the Fillet
The next step is to clean the fish. You need to cut off any excess fat or bloodlines from the fillet. You can also use kitchen tweezers to remove pin bones from the fish. Try to feel along the length of the fillet with your finger to find the pin bones.
Step 3: Slicing Through the Fillet
Let’s get into the cutting. Now, carefully, put the fillet on your chopping board, grip onto it, and then slice from top to bottom in a single stroke with your sushi knife. If you try to saw through the fish, you will ruin its texture.
While holding your knife at a slight angle, cut through the fillet at one-centimeter intervals, maintaining the thickness for all the slices. The thickness of the slices can vary depending on your preferences.
Step 4: Plate Up Your Sashimi
Your sashimi is now ready for arrangement. You can arrange it on a plate with condiments like white radish or shiso leaves. You may also serve it with soya sauce, ginger, and wasabi. The choice is all yours.
In essence, cutting sashimi may seem quite difficult, but with proper guidelines and regular practice, anyone can do it. You probably know by now that the type of seafood you use for meat, the knife you use for cutting, and even the way you hold your knife all play a part in the accuracy and precision of your sashimi cuts.
It is now your turn to give it a shot, so sharpen those knives and put your skills to the test!