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Cutting a block of raw fish was intimidating for the longest time for me. I know for a fact that I am still not doing it like the pros because 1) I don't cut with a sashimi knife and 2) I've only cut raw fish about 5 times.

Cutting, plating and serving sashimi at home provides a splash of unexpected luxury which is always welcome in my book.

Because I don't have a sashimi knife, I use the longest knife I own that is not serrated. I also always sharpen the knife right before I cut to ensure that I have a very fine, clean edge. Sharpening the entire edge of your knife is very important when cutting raw fish so get your water stones soaked up for an intense session.

I will be demonstrating with a wild salmon sashimi block. Notice the diagonal lines running through the flesh. The goal is to slice while intersecting these lines at a 90 degree angle.

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Once, you've established the lines, take note that you must cut the flesh in one long stroke. You do not want to cut sashimi like it's a well-done steak or tough baguette - no back and forth sawing here.

Understanding that you have to cut each slice in one long stroke means that you will have to apply just the right amount of pressure to execute a clean cut. The first few times I did this I failed, leaving a sinewy strand or two uncut.

One, continuous...

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... stroke.

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After practicing a few times, you will get the hang of it. You will feel how much pressure must be applied to cut through an entire slice in one stroke.

Here's a video.






I noticed that even though I am not even close to a pro sashimi cutter, the results are quite satisfactory. Having a temaki party with fish you just cut is fun and probably about 10 times less expensive than going out.

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Temaki party shots:

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Column: Japanify
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10 comments

  • OMG sashimi porn.

    Craig on

  • santa barbara uni!!

    chungy on

  • Yeah, California uni is out of control!

    yoko on

  • Yamahomo – really good idea. I would be so cool if we could do tutorial Umamiventure at Sushi Kuni.

    yoko on

  • We should ask the editor to go into Sushi Kuni and teach us the real deal, from fillet to cutting sashimi. It’s about time, Kayoko, to bring out the pro!

    Yamahomo on

  • Did you prepare saba in any way? There’s quite a few way to make shime-saba.

    Yamahomo on

  • How informative. Yoko, I want to try this myself, but I am scared to ruin a good piece of meat. How do you ensure freshness when buying sashimi?

    Bryan on

  • Every time I try to cut fish like this, it ends up smooshed and in little pieces. Sometimes it’s so bad that I end up having to mince it up since it’s halfway there already. This is helpful, thanks Yokles.

    worm on

  • Great advice! Uploading instruction videos are so handy. Even though I start missing you very much when hearing your voice :-)

    The beautiful block of salmon reminds me of all the super cheap fresh fish abundant in the Tokyo supermarkets – a good chunk for 400 yen – so cheap!

    I live in an island country but fish and oysters are crazy expensive, makes no sense!

    Anders on

  • Anders – yes, that is unfortunate that you are surrounded by water but are subjected to such high prices for seafood. We’ll have tons of oysters when you visit.

    Worm – Glad this was helpful. Yeah, it also depends on the fish. Some are just more prone to fall apart easily. But that probably also means that your knife is not sharp enough and therefore you have to apply pressure when you are slicing.

    Bryan – I usually ask my fish monger what the freshest best fish is. Ask the person behind the fish counter what you’d like to have for dinner tonight and they are more than happy to engage you in conversation and recommendations. They are one of my best sources for writing these posts!

    yoko on

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