An Authentic Guide to Japanese Raw Seafood Delicacies

Sashimi platter

When it comes to raw seafood, Japan is undoubtedly the culinary capital of the world. From the bustling fish markets to the exquisite sushi bars, there is no shortage of raw seafood delicacies to indulge in. Whether you’re a seasoned seafood lover or a curious food adventurer, exploring the world of Japanese raw seafood is an absolute must. In this guide, we will uncover the secrets behind some of Japan’s most popular raw seafood delicacies and provide you with an authentic experience that will leave your taste buds begging for more.

Nigiri sushi

Let’s start our journey with sushi, the most iconic Japanese dish that has taken the world by storm. Sushi is a combination of vinegared rice and various toppings, with raw fish being the star of the show. Nigiri sushi, the most common type of sushi, consists of a small mound of rice topped with a thin slice of raw fish. The simplicity of this dish allows the natural flavors of the fish to shine through. Some popular choices for nigiri sushi include tuna (maguro), salmon (sake), yellowtail (hamachi), and shrimp (ebi).


Next up, we have sashimi, which is essentially thinly sliced raw fish or seafood served without rice. Sashimi focuses solely on the freshness and quality of the seafood, and the skill of the chef in slicing it. The most popular fish used for sashimi include tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and mackerel. The slices are often accompanied by soy sauce, wasabi, and grated daikon radish, enhancing the flavors and providing a harmonious balance to the delicate seafood.


For the adventurous foodies out there, uni should not be missed. Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin, and its creamy, buttery texture and unique flavor make it a delicacy unlike any other. It is often served simply on its own or as a topping for sushi and sashimi. The best uni is said to come from the cold waters of Hokkaido in northern Japan, where the sea urchins feed on nutrient-rich kelp, resulting in a more intense flavor.


Another delicacy that is not to be missed is ikura, or salmon roe. The vibrant, orange pearls burst with a briny, oceanic flavor that pairs perfectly with sushi and sashimi. The roe is often marinated in soy sauce and mirin, further enhancing its taste. Whether enjoyed as a topping for nigiri sushi or as a garnish for rice bowls, ikura adds a delightful burst of flavor and texture to any dish.

Chirashi bowl

Lastly, we have the chirashi bowl, a colorful and visually stunning dish that showcases an assortment of raw seafood over a bed of sushi rice. Chirashi means “scattered” in Japanese, and this dish truly lives up to its name. The chef arranges a selection of sashimi, diced seafood, and other toppings such as tamago (sweet rolled omelet) and pickled vegetables over a bowl of seasoned sushi rice. The result is a satisfying and well-balanced meal that highlights the abundance of flavors and textures in Japanese cuisine.

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