Basashi: Horse Meat Sashimi
Sashimi is well-known and popular with people concerned with eating healthful foods or watching their weight. Sake (salmon sashimi), otoro (tuna sashimi), kanpachi (amberjack sashimi), you name it. But there is one kind of sashimi that perhaps non-Japanese are not familiar with: basashi, or horse meat sashimi. Yes, we are talking about a meal containing raw meat cutlets from a four-legged mammal which can run faster than 25 mph.
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Origins of Basashi
There is some speculation about when basashi was first eaten. Some say it was first eaten by samurai that were trapped in a battle in Kyushu back in 1877. The battle took place at Kumamoto Castle. For 53 days they were trapped inside the castle. It was very unfortunate for the horses: the soldiers had to eat them in order to survive.
Others say it was because of advances in transportation; horses were not so useful yet overpopulated in some farming areas. People in Kumamoto decided they had to do something, and chose . Whatever the reason is, Kumamoto itself became very well known for its basashi, or as the Japanese sometimes call it, sakura niku (cherry blossom meat). It's called sakura niku because of its pink color.
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Some Benefits from Eating Horsemeat
First of all, horse meat is low-fat, only about 2 to 5%, so it can play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Horse meat is abundant in vitamin B and iron. It contains vitamin B3, B6, and B12, which enhance the cellular metabolism. Horse meat also contains high-quality proteins, which are important for muscle and organ development. Moreover, horse meat is rich in flavours, in fact, abundant in glycogen, which makes it taste softer and sweeter than other varieties of meat.
Types of Basashi & Servings
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There are three main types of basashi: fatty meat, marbled meat, and lean meat. Basashi is usually served cold along with soy sauce, garlic, and wasabi. At some places it is also served as yakiniku, where it is called “baniku”, which literally means “horse meat” in Japanese. Some people have the opinion that it tastes almost the same as raw beef, but some describe it is as soft in one part and somehow chewy at the others. In addition, Japan has also innovated desserts from this basashi, such as ice cream, etc.
Feeling curious? You do not need to worry about bacteria or other parasites for it is treated at -20 °C for 48 hours. As described before, horse meat is rich in protein, zinc, and iron, and also low in fat, which makes it a better choice compared to beef and pork. Unfortunately, eating horse meat is not allowed in some cultures as it is not on the Kosher list. So if you do not have any problem eating it, why not try some? It’s good for your health and you can cross it off your bucket list. 😉