Basashi is raw horse meat, often served on a bed of ice with condiments like soy sauce, shiso leaves, and daikon (Japanese radish). It’s also called “sakura” (cherry) because of its deep red color.
Before 1867 and the Meiji restoration, Buddhist beliefs prevented people from killing animals for food. However, during hard times, this became unavoidable – but there weren’t many animals around. Despite being highly valued domestic animals, horses would have been obvious candidates for the dinner table, which is where the basashi tradition started.
Unlike sashimi made from other types of meat and fish, basashi is extremely chewy, and can be inedible if not properly prepared. Although horse meat is a relatively healthy, with a high protein content, Japanese consumption of horse flesh is in a steady decline.
- Horse meat in Japan (Wikipedia)
- Japanese Diet/Cuisine: Basashi (New Holland HFT)
“While sometimes subjected to criticism of perceived cruelty, basashi is one of many special delicacies in the world that are uniquely regional.”
- Basashi (Everything2)
“If you can overcome your prejudices, you will find that good basashi tastes as smooth and creamy as the best tuna belly.”
- Raw Horseflesh Ice Cream (Mainichi Daily News)
“You can get it straight from the horse’s mouth, this would have to vie for the vilest ice cream ever created.”