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Raw Meat in Japan

Ewa Nowogorski

People in Japan have a strange obsession with raw meat and fish in Japan. Ironically I was once scolded for eating raw carrot that was unpeeled (but washed!) by my host mother when I did a student exchange in Japan many years ago.

Sushi and sashimi are well known and eaten at Japanese restaurants in the country and overseas as well. It is, however, a very unique thing to eat raw food, and it is quite rare to see people eating raw food overseas; this is only special to mainly Japan.

Raw fish can be eaten because it is usually extremely fresh. It is most often eaten on the same day that it is caught, sometimes within a few hours.

You might be used to the fact that raw fish is eaten commonly here, but did you know that raw meats such as chicken and horse are also eaten? Raw chicken is very chewy and has no flavor, so it must be dipped into some kind of sauce, or it won’t be a pleasant experience.

Japanese people probably like to eat raw food so much because they want to protect and respect the original flavor of the food, down to eating it in its rawest form.

In recent years, the Japanese government has become more strict about allowing restaurants to sell raw meat on their menus, requiring either a brief boiling or a freezing to kill off any bacteria, germs, or parasites that may still be alive in the meat. I wouldn’t try any of this stuff anyways. There is nothing about raw meat that appeals to me.

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