Torisashi and Toriwasa: Raw Chicken Sashimi


Torisashi, in the eyes of Westerners this is quite possibly the most feared dish in all of Japanese cuisine. Torisashi is sliced raw chicken served in a sashimi style. In Kagoshima, where the dish is popular, a mirin sweetened soy sauce is usually served along with the chicken sashimi and occasionally with ground ginger. While torisashi is commonly made from sasami (the same thing as a white meat "chicken tenderloin" in the US), sashimi made from chicken gizzards and raw chicken liver is also a frequent option.

There is another chicken sashimi preparation that is not completely raw, called toriwasa. In a style very similar to beef or tuna tataki the chicken is lightly seared on all sides with the interior of the chicken slices remaining completely raw. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to test the waters with either torisashi or toriwasa during your vacation in Japan, I highly recommend that you do so. If anything, it will leave you with a story that will surprise most of your friends back home.

The Salmonella Issue

A study conducted in 2007 and 2008 by professor Katsuya Hirai of Tenshi College in Sapporo stated that ~20% of the ground chicken meat tested (163 out of 820 samples) in Japan was contaminated with salmonella.

As soon as this hit various idiots from across the world started making statements that 20% of chicken sold in Japan was contaminated. Notice the difference here? The study tested ground chicken, not solid chicken meat. Due in large part to it's massively increased surface area, ground meat of any type has a much higher incidence of bacterial contamination.

People in Japan, including myself, eats tons upon tons of raw eggs and chicken meat every year and the hospitals in Japan are not flooded with incidences of salmonella poisoning. In fact, the article below states that in 2007, there were only 3,600 reported cases of salmonella poisoning in Japan. Considering that almost all of Japan's 127 million residents consume raw or "undercooked" chicken products on a frequent basis, that's a damn small number. Raw eggs are even an option at Yoshinoya, a highly popular Japanese fast food chain.