When you think of a Kobe beef steak, you think of grilling at a very high temperature for one to two minutes per side for a perfect rare doneness. We all know that Kobe beef can’t be overcooked. The fat melts away too quickly and all you have is an expensive but tough piece of meat.
Yet, can Kobe beef undercooked? The answer is no. Welcome to the world of Kobe beef sashimi. First, a word about what sashimi is. Sashimi is simply raw seafood or very thinly sliced meat, often quick pickled, served with a dipping sauce. The Japanese consider sashimi the highest dish in their culinary repertoire.
The making of Kobe beef sashimi is easy. Slice Kobe prime rib paper thin. If you have an at-home slicer, this step is easy, but your local specialty butcher might do it for you for free, or at least a modest price. Also, since most butchers don’t carry Kobe beef, the butcher might be excited to hold some Kobe beef in his hands.
The key to good sashimi are the garnishments and sauces. Traditionally, a daikon radish is cut into what we would call shoe-strings and served as a mound next to the meat. The sauces include the simple soy sauce with wasabi mixed in, though some traditionalists say the wasabi should be on the side. (Wasabi is a strong horseradish paste.) Grated fresh ginger also adds another layer of taste and heat.
The traditional sauce for meat sashimi like Kobe beef is called ponzu. You won’t be able to make ponzu, unless you are a trained chef with a great kitchen. The ingredients are worth noting, though: rice vinegar, dried tuna flakes, and seaweed simmered and then strained. The last step is the addition of citrus juice. Finally a mint called shiso is added for each piece of sashimi.
What’s the point? The subtlety of textures and flavors. Sashimi is the Japanese food version of fine wine: can you take your time and really taste the food with all its complexity. Add a bottle of good sake and have your own Japanese haute cuisine.
So, did you try Kobe beef sashimi? At home or at a restaurant? And the verdict is . . . ?