July 29, 2021

Shunde Style Sashimi 順德魚生

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You'd probably be surprised to know that eating raw fish actually started in China, not Japan. I know that I was pretty surprised as raw fish is synonymous with Japanese food these days.  But the Chinese have been enjoying raw fish since the Zhou Dynasty, around 823 BC.  A long time, that.  Even the rebel leader Song Jiang 宋江 from the 14th century classic Chinese novel 'Outlaws of the Marsh' 水滸傳 enjoyed a platter of raw fish now and then!

Buying food provisions Outlaws of the Marsh illustration - 15th century

These days Chinese style sashimi 魚生, also known as Yusheng, is still enjoyed especially in Guangdong, Singapore and Malaysia.  A festive and fancy version of this sashimi dish is called "Prosperity Toss' 撈生 wherein raw sliced fish is presented with a grand assortment of thinly sliced vegetables and condiments, then tossed together by the diners before consuming.  Today we want to introduce an older, simpler, traditional version of Chinese sashimi that originates from famous food city Shunde 順德: sliced fresh raw fish tossed with a bit of oil for smoothness, aromatics for fragrance and peanuts for crunch.  It's super simple to prepare and a delightful new way to enjoy sashimi!

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The fish traditionally used for this dish is the grass carp 鯇魚.  However the grass carp is a fresh water fish and not recommended for sashimi.  However, the clever Shunde chefs have developed a special method to prepare the carp for raw consumption by slowly acclimatizing the live freshwater fish to salt water for a few days before consuming.  This would be impossible to achieve at home so we just used sashimi grade raw fish which is easy to pick up in HK.  This block o' meat is some fine tasting Japanese yellowtail.  Yumm...I love me some sashimi!

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Slice the sashimi into thin slices using a very sharp knife.  Cover and keep chilled while preparing the aromatics.

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The main aromatics are ginger and spring onions.  Both need to be sliced into really, really thin shreds.  Especially the thinness is necessary for the ginger to ensure a pleasant eating experience.  Nobody likes chewing on thick tough shreds of ginger.  Humm...the ginger looks good here but I think the spring onions could have been thinner.  Having a nifty spring onion shredder really helps making the spring onions into thin shreds.  I think we forgot to use ours :(


Soak the shredded aromatics in ice cold water.  This trick will refresh and attractively curl up the spring onions while dialing down the pepperiness of the ginger.  Don't skip this step, especially for the ginger!
                       
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The rest of the ingredients are here.  Oil for smoothness and to help combine everything.  For better flavor use cooked oil, i.e. oil that has been heated through already.  A touch of garlic for its pungency.  Salt for flavor.  And lastly peanuts for a contrasting crunch.  Throw everything together and give it a toss.  Your simple Shunde style Sashimi is ready to enjoy!


If you enjoy this dish as much as we do you can branch out to adding other ingredients to the mix.  This is really a dish about textures and contrasts that you can play with.  Other condiments that can work are:
 
Chinese pickled shallots 蕎頭 (they're actually not shallots but the bulb part of spring onions)
onions (fresh or pickled)
dried tangerine peel 陳皮, be sure to soak first and scrap off white pith before slicing (homemade recipe here)
fresh kaffir lime leaves, needs to sliced super thin, but oh so fragrant!
sesame seeds, roast 'em first 
carrots
deep fried taro shreds
daikon

All these condiments, of course, would need to be sliced into very thin shreds or rounds.  If you end up preparing alot of condiments then you're definitely in Prosperity Toss territory and ready for a truely impressive festive dinner.  If you do experiment with different tastes and textures be sure to let us know what additions worked for you!

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Shunde Style Sashimi Recipe  順德魚生
Prep time: 10 mins        Cook time:  0 mins   

10 1/2 oz sashimi of your choice, 300g
2 tbsp cooked peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp ginger, shredded
3 tbsp spring onion, shredded
2 cups ice cold water
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
salt to taste
dash of soy sauce (optional)

Soak shredded ginger and shredded spring onion in two separate bowls of ice cold water for 10-15 mins.  Remove and pat dry.  Slice sashimi to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices, up to your preference.  In large bowl add in sliced sashimi, oil, garlic, ginger, spring onion, peanuts and salt to taste. Gently toss.  Serve right away, adding a dash of soy sauce if you like.  Enjoy!

More Strange and Special Seafood Specialties at The Hong Kong Cookery:





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2 comments:

  1. Hadn't check your website in a while, and you drop some food knowledge here that I didn't know, even though I am constantly trying to learn more. Want to thank you for your effort, hope you keep it up.

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    1. Thank you , Victor, for your support! We try to always learn as well, food is so fascinating, and we enjoy to share it with everyone. 😋Ellen

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