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Sashimi: Is It Really Healthy?

Sashimi is a Japanese treat. It is fresh raw seafood with choices like tuna, salmon, mackerel, yellow tail, octopus, sea urchin, squid and many other kinds.

It comes from the two words- "sashi" (pierced) and "mi" (body, meat) thereby having the meaning of "pierced body". This words derives from the Japanese culinary practice of cutting the fish and identifying which piece is to be eaten.

The Safe Kind of Sashimi

Sashimi are always made with fresh saltwater fish RATHER than freshwater as they are prone to parasites which can cause health risk when eaten.

How Sashimi is Prepared

The Itamae (Japanese Chef) ensures that the fish being used is fresh and of the highest quality. Chef uses a very sharp knife to skillfully slice the fish into thin layers, removing the skin and other substances like bone that are dangerous. These fine fillets are then place on a platter containing wasabi, soysauce or slices of ginger and other garnishes.

Some Guidelines

Essentially, raw food is depicted as dirty for some but healthy and pack with nutrients for the others. Let us take a look at some guidelines on eating Sashimi.

  1. Go to a highly reputable authentic Japanese restaurant with Japanese chefs that knows the deal in making sashimi. Eating sashimi at buffet restaurants is discouraged as we do not know how it is prepared.
  2. With the first one mentioned, the experts should know which fish to buy that is suitable for eating it raw and freezing it in low temperature to kill parasites. Thereby getting to know the term…
  3. Sashimi Grade Fish – There is honestly no standard as to how they define sashimi/sushi grade fish. According to The Sushi FAQ, the primary concern is the parasite destruction guarantee, which is accomplished by ‘f reezing and storing seafood at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time), or freezing at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours, or freezing at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 24 hours’ which is sufficient to kill parasites. The FDA’s Food Code recommends these freezing conditions to retailers who provide fish intended for raw consumption.

Bad and Good

  • Seafood eaten raw runs the risk of being affected by contaminants like mercury which is caused by pollution in our environment.
  • Raw seafood when eaten can be the home of many bacteria, virus and other parasitic creatures in our intestines.
  • On the healthier side, sashimi has an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fats, and other nutrients like selenium, niacin and vitamin B12, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamin B6.

The Verdict

With all the mouthful information above, in the end what matters is how the sashimi is prepared. They are safe to eat as long as they are handled properly according to standards and health restrictions. Sometimes, when you go to a highly reputable restaurant, you might expect that they only serve Sashimi Grade Fish but then you must know that your health lies in the hands of the person who will prepare the food. Eat at a trusted Sushi/Sashimi bar who is known for their extra sanitary and cooking precautions. Trust your gastronomical instinct. Everything in life has its own risk.

Bottomline? Everything in Moderation.

Inspired by the following sources:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-sashimi.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashimi
http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/07/05/the_6_healthiest_staple_foods_in_japanese_cuisine.htm

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