How to Eat Sashimi

Sashimi is a light Japanese dish that has become immensely popular in the Western world as an appetizer. Since it is a dish with a long tradition, there is also etiquette on how to eat it adequately.

Through these four simple steps, I will show you how to properly eat sashimi:

1. Prepare the necessary kitchen utensils and serve.

2. Eat sashimi properly.

3. Properly dip sashimi in sauces.

4. Don’t forget about the garnishes.

Of course, additional information will be provided for each step, and following them will help you experience the genuine flavor of this dish.

What You’re Going to Need

  • Chopsticks
  • A wide plate
  • Small cups or bowls

Step 1- Prepare the Necessary Kitchen Utensils and Serve

This article presupposes that you have learned how to make sashimi, so hopefully, the sashimi-grade fish that you have bought has been cut into thin slices with a sashimi knife, and all that has been left to do is to serve it.

You will need any kind of wide plate for serving. Sashimi slices should overlap each other. Depending on the recipe you are using, the plate sometimes has to be covered first with sauce or some garnishes, and sometimes, the sauce and garnishes are added last on top of the slices.

Afterward, take as many cups or bowls as there are different sauces. They shouldn’t be filled to the brim. Containers with sauces should be close by, and if there is a need for it, you should refill the bowl.

Finally, sashimi is traditionally eaten with chopsticks. You might want to check a tutorial on how to use them if this is your first time. Don’t worry – you will get the hang of it pretty quickly. If you want to put your chopsticks down, they shouldn’t be placed on the plate or bowls. Restaurants usually have chopsticks holders, but a handkerchief will do fine as well.

Tip: If you have invited friends, each person should have their own cup or bowl for sauces.

Step 2 – Eat Sashimi Properly

First of all, sashimi is mostly eaten as an appetizer. Some restaurants serve it as a main course as well, but usually, it is a variation of the dish, such as the sashimi salad. However, such dishes are not traditional anymore, and you won’t experience the authentic Japanese sashimi taste.

A sashimi slice is always eaten in one bite. Don’t eat sashimi in smaller bites, as you won’t experience the unique texture and flavor at all. Sashimi-grade fish has a buttery texture, and some types literally melt in your mouth. Also, you will see that it isn’t even convenient to eat this dish in smaller bites.

The slice should be slowly chewed in order to feel all the flavors. This is especially important if you are using more than one sauce or garnish.

Tip: If you find yourself in an authentic Japanese restaurant, there is a chance a plate with different sashimi slices might be served. You are going to notice that red slices are placed closer to the edge of the plate, white in the middle, and orange slices in between the two. You also should follow this order when eating, starting from the edge of the plate.

Step 3 – Properly Dip Sashimi in Sauces

In most cases, you will have two sauces – the soy sauce and the wasabi paste. Of course, there are other traditional Japanese sauces, but they are all applied in the same way as soy sauce.

Before grabbing a sashimi slice, take the desired amount of wasabi paste and place it on top of your slice. Keep in mind that wasabi can be quite spicy. After placing the wasabi paste, take the slice and dip the bottom side.

There are two major mistakes that people make when dipping. First is dipping the wasabi paste as well in soy sauce. The paste will disintegrate, and soy sauce will completely neutralize the spiciness.

The other mistake is soaking the sashimi slice in soy sauce or putting too much wasabi paste (or any other sauce, for that matter). The point is to experience the flavor of both the fish and sauces, but the flavor of fish is easily overpowered by adding too much sauce.

Step 4 – Don’t Forget About the Garnishes

The basic sashimi dish consists of sashimi slices, soy sauce, and wasabi paste. However, there are many garnishes that make this dish even more exciting, and people often ignore garnishes when eating sashimi.

The most common garnishes are vegetables (cucumber slices or grated garlic, for example). When taking a slice for the plate, you shouldn’t remove the garnish. If the slices are on the top, everything should be picked up together and dipped into sauces. Of course, this may be a bit harder in the beginning if you don’t know how to use chopsticks but take it slowly.

Tip: In traditional Japanese restaurants, you will also get fresh ginger slices on your plate. Ginger is used to cleanse the palate between each bite (this is especially important if there are different sashimi dishes). Don’t mistake it for a garnish and eat it together with fish! Ginger has a strong flavor that will completely neutralize the taste of fish.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the most important thing is to enjoy food, no matter how you eat it. However, there is no denying that Japanese dishes have a lot of subtle flavors that can only be experienced by following the right etiquette. Sashimi is one of those dishes. But also, it could be a fun and educational thing to do since it is a part of traditional Japanese culture.