I consider myself an amateur sushi connoisseur. I’ve been eating sushi my whole life and can order most of the dishes using their Japanese names. Ebi, please (shrimp). Maguro, if you would (tuna). While I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart dedicated to nigiri sushi (raw fish served on sticky sushi rice) and rolls, my favorite sushi is, always and by far, sashimi.
Sashimi is an art and can vary depending on the skill level of the chef preparing it. Sashimi is simply slices of bite-sized raw fish, not accompanied by rice, meant to be eaten with soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese horseradish). While the concept may seem easy to put together, many different characteristics of sashimi can make or break the meal.
First, thickness is a major deal. I personally prefer thinner slices of sashimi — the fish will melt on your tongue like butter. A sure sign of an inexperienced chef is inconsistent sashimi slices.
Another sign of an amateur chef is the method of slicing. Sashimi should not be cut straight on like bricks, but rather with a diagonal slice.
Temperature is another huge part of sashimi. Too cold, and the fish loses some of its flavor. Too warm, and the fish loses its texture.
Presentation is key — many Japanese chefs put pride in their dishes, but sashimi often inspires a new level of decoration. Sushi Station in Eugene serves their sashimi on elegant plates with purposefully placed garnishes. Sometimes, the sashimi is gingerly organized within a decoratively cut lemon or cucumber rind before it is served, or the sashimi is laid on a bed of shredded white radish to bring out the fish’s color. In any case, take a moment to enjoy the look of the meal before you dig in to it.