You're probably not alone if you've entered a Japanese restaurant and used the terms "sushi" and "sashimi" interchangeably. Although they sound similar in name, there is a difference. Before you go out to DaRuMa Japanese SteakHouse and Sushi Lounge, brush up on your each term to make sure you understand what you're really ordering!
What is Sashimi?
Sashimi often refers to thin slices of fish that are uncooked. However, it can also be a piece of meat--not necessarily seafood--which is cooked and then draped over a garnish with one perilla leaf slice. Sashimi is normally served with dripping sauce like wasabi paste and soy sauce. Some of the common meats served as sashimi include salmon, shrimp, whale meat, sea urchin, and octopus among others.
Again, not everything called sashimi is raw. For instance, octopus can be served cooked due to its chewy nature. Also, sashimi is more than just seafood; you can find chicken sashimi in some Japanese restaurants. Just ask your server to clarify whether the dish is served raw or cooked.
What is Sushi?
Sushi is a dish that is made with vinegared rice mixed with seafood, eggs, and vegetables. Sushi was created as a means of actually preserving fish, but then it developed as a snack in its own right! The importance of fish as part of sushi also depends on where the dish is being prepared. For instance, sushi from Tokyo is usually a morsel of rice with a small slice of fish on top of it. But other meats like beef and barbecue chicken can be added while making sushi, especially in the world of nouvelle cuisine. Even though much of the fish used to make sushi is raw, some of the other ingredients are boiled, blanched, marinated, or broiled.
In short, while sushi and sashimi are similar, sushi is served with rice while sashimi isn't. With this information, you now have a better handle on what to order!
Do I Have to Worry About Raw Fish in My Sashimi or Sushi?
Those preparing sushi and sashimi ought to be careful with both the rice and raw fish. For instance, one potential hazard of raw fish is its production of histamines that may lead to scombroid poisoning. And, some fish species produce natural toxins which can cause neurological and gastrointestinal issues. However, If you are a sushi or sashimi lover, you shouldn't worry about raw fish as long as it has been properly prepared in a professional restaurant that follows FDA regulations. If you are truly worried, you can always opt for cooked sushi or a different meal like tofu rolls, tempura, or gyoza!