Raw fish is one of the most symbolic foods in Japan. However, there is not only fish sashimi in the country, but also horse meat. That’s right, the Japanese consume raw horse meat and this is considered a delicacy, in addition to being an expensive food.
Learn more about Japanese horse sashimi here and see if you think it’s very exotic or if you’d have the courage to enjoy this dish.
But, as you’ve already seen in the title, one of the countries that sell horse meat for Japan to consume in this way is Brazil. In other words, in a way, this consumption of raw horse meat in Japan helps the Brazilian economy.
Horse Sashimi from Japan, the basashi
Basashi (馬刺し “horse sashimi”) are thin slices of baniku, raw horse meat (馬肉). It is a unique delicacy that is consumed in certain parts of Japan.
This meat is also known as sakura niku (桜肉, “cherry blossom meat”). Probably this name is due to its characteristic color which is more reddish.
Basashi is horse meat sashimi, a specialty in Kumamoto prefecture (southern Japan), although it is also eaten in Aomori, Nagano and Oita. So, if you have the opportunity to go to the country and want to eat this dish, be sure to go to one of these cities.
Horse meat is leaner, higher in protein and lower in calories and fat than pork or beef. Depending on its maturity, the color can vary from pink to dark red, hence its name “sakura niku”. The flavor is slightly sweet with a hint of game and is like a cross between venison and beef.
Meat cuts can be categorized into three groups: fatty, lean and marbled. Other parts of the horse, such as mane fat, liver and tongue, are valued as a small portion is obtained per animal.
Most horses slaughtered for consumption are imported from Canada, Mexico, Italy, Argentina and Brazil.
How to eat Japanese horse sashimi
Like fish sashimi, basashi is dipped in spices. It is usually eaten with sliced onions, grated ginger, Japanese horseradish and garlic, then dipped in sweet soy sauce, a specialty of southern Japan.
Although basashi refers to raw horse meat, it can also be grilled, smoked and added to hot dishes. There are other more creative dishes, such as pizza baniku, Ice cream baniku and hamburgers baniku. The Japanese have a lot of creativity when it comes to food and experimenting with unusual flavors.
Although it is an acquired dish, it is a must if you visit Kumamoto. Don’t forget to follow up with a shochu local (焼酎, traditional Japanese distilled alcoholic beverage).