Sashimi – Usu-Zukuri
  |  First Published: May 2009

I can remember my daughter, Kim, taking some soy sauce and wasabi along when we went fishing. This always caught the attention of those we fished with. She’d learned the ways of eating raw fish from Japanese friends as a youngster and today we all still look forward to the differing flavours of various seafoods served sashimi style.

Presentation is a very important part of serving sashimi and the essential tool is a good sashimi knife. A sashimi knife is only sharpened on one side of the blade, similar to a chisel edge, as this is more accurate for making straight cuts especially when slicing fish into transparent thin pieces for sashimi.

These knives can very expensive, well outside the average household budget, but there is one knife that is imported locally that fits the bill at a sensible price. I have the perfect sashimi knife in my kit in the I.O.Shen brand “Sashimi” knife. This sashimi knife is made by wrapping two layers of shock absorbing Rockwell 10 around a core of ultra hard Rockwell 62 steel. This allows a knife that is incredibly sharp yet will also hold its edge for an amazing amount of time. The sashimi knife has been hand sharpened to a 15º angle that allows you excellent control when slicing.

Ideally, when preparing sashimi you should use one continuous slicing motion through the fish flesh. The technique of usu-zukuri is used to cut paper-thin diagonal pieces. The fish is held in the left hand and the blade is held at 45º as it cuts through the flesh from left to right.

The fish used for usu-zukuri is traditionally a small-filleted white flesh fish, however, I also like to use the small thin tail fillet from a tuna. This way, I can present the colours of white fish flesh and red fish flesh alongside each other.

Dipping sauces

The beautifully fresh taste of the sashimi fish deserves the best of flavours in the dipping sauce. Use the best quality soy sauce and your dipping sauces will reward you with great flavour.

1) Mix Kikkoman soy sauce with a dash of wasabi paste (according to taste) in a small bowl. Add pickled ginger on the side of the plate for an added oomph to your sashimi.

2) In a second bowl put the juice of a couple of limes with a little added grated ginger.

3) The Japanese like food in odd numbers so the third bowl can be the same Kikkoman soy sauce but this time with either mirin or sake added. The mix should be about three parts soy sauce to one part mirin.

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