I’ve posted here before about some questionable food claiming to be Japanese. I went to a cooking demonstration recently and saw Rick Stein make 5 dishes in an hour. Most of it looked good and simple to recreate at home. But I took exception to the second dish he produced, a plate of sashimi.
Now, I am not an expert in preparing sashimi as it takes special training. I don’t teach it in my classes because you need sashimi grade fish for which you have to go to a specialty shop. And while I am happy to slice some up to serve to family, I wouldn’t presume to teach it. But I do know the basics of what you can and cannot do. And you cannot, as he claims, just buy farmed salmon and eat it raw. As it says on the Food Standards website, “If a shop or restaurant buys fish to be eaten raw or almost raw, for example, sushi or raw herring, it must have been frozen at minus 20°C for at least 24 hours.” This is to kill off the worms that can be present. They are killed in the cooking process but obviously you don’t cook the fish for sashimi. So please, don’t buy fish at your local supermarket and think you can eat it raw.
Then he made a dipping sauce. I know that some very high end sushi places serve a special sauce which starts with dashi, the seaweed and bonito stock that is the soul of Japanese food. He used an instant one, which I understand since explaining dashi would have been an hour onto itself. But he used one which has as the first ingredient, MSG. But as it is the most popular brand, I am willing to cut him some slack. It is how he prepared it that was a problem. You cannot just put some into water and stir it up. It is granules and requires heating for it to dissolve and actually turn into stock.
Aesthetically he didn’t do a great job plating which was surprising given his credentials. All in all, I got the impression that he didn’t think anyone in the audience would try and reproduce it so he just whipped it off to have another dish in the programme.
I hope next time he attempts this, he watches the programme he did in Japan beforehand so he can remember what it’s meant to look like in the end. And note where the fish came from.