Everyone knows you can enjoy fresh fish in Japan, there’s plenty of information out there for you to learn about that topic. This post is to enlighten you about some alternatives to fish that you can enjoy without a frypan in sight while in the mountains of Yamanashi.
Growing up in New Zealand and watching Mr Bean eating his Steak tartar, we were taught that eating raw meats were a sin. It didn’t help that my sister was quite close to being diagnosed with Cibophobia, so in our household you must cook your meat until it is darker than an All Blacks jersey.
Anyhow, it wasn’t until my first trip to Japan that I realised what I and many people were missing out on. I felt that I now shared a special bond with Gordon Bombay after he missed his missed his penalty in the final of the Peewee Hockey League and spent the next 20 years in mourning.
The first dish I enjoyed was basashi, it is horse meat of the finest quality, thinly sliced and almost a maroon colour. It is served as an appetizer dipped in soy sauce with either ginger or garlic. The regions in Japan where it is a speciality are Yamanashi, Nagano and Kumamoto. The texture is very soft and good basashi will melt in your mouth like a perfect piece of fatty belly tuna sashimi. I prefer ginger over garlic while washing it down with a Ginga Kogen beer to make it more of a pleasure than picking your nose after a day at Ayers Rock. It’s probably one of the first dishes I treat my friends when they visit, after they get over the shock of its origin, they want seconds and request it time after time like a Hoobastank CD in a jukebox.
Beef Yukke is another dish that you will come across at most BBQ restaurants in Japan. Originally from Korea, it is thinly sliced pieces of beef marinated with soy and sesame oil then served with a egg yolk to add even more richness. I think even my sister tried this, so its a stepping done to getting into the more exotic raw meats. Recently, Beef Yukke has been my breakfast food of choice topped on a bowl of rice, delicious!!
Chicken Sashimi is probably a dish that is almost banned in Australia, I would probably have more of a chance of importing exotic snakes from Myanmar than finding this on the menu. Its a shame, as its light and tasty that is goes down ever so well with Kagoshima Shochu, where it is a local speciality. I firstly tried it right here in Yamanashi dressed with Ponzu sauce and took a liking to it. Once you understand that the chicken is grown specially for this dish, no added hormones, chemicals, cages or batteries, you can take a deep breath and savour the fresh hit and not worry about who will receive your superannuation payout the following morning.
Shochu with a small mountain of Chicken Sashimi in Kagoshima
Venison is still working it’s way into Japanese hearts, people do not regard it as a delicacy as it usually thrown into a hot pot where it turns into a chewy disaster like if you try eating the purple K Bar on a cold day in New Zealand. However, there are some people who are slowly building a trend and enjoying Venison Yukke, similar to the beef. Using Red wine, garlic, sugar and Gochujang and marinating overnight, you have a dish that is taking a few select places by storm. If you are not to sure about the origin of the meat when preparing this just freeze the meat after marinating then defrost before you enjoy this complemented with a dark ale or a Nikka 17year pure malt.
There are obviously cases where you could get ill from raw meats, but in Yamanashi you have more of chance of getting hit by an elderly farmer driving home to watch the NHK morning drama that is replayed at 1pm each day.
So start getting into these stunning selections and if you come across any other specialties let me know.