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article imageIkizukuri — For some, seafood that is ‘too fresh’ to eat

By Igor I. Solar     Jun 21, 2014 in Food
"Live sushi", known in Japan as Ikizukuri, consists in preparing and serving live animals. Considered as the ‘freshest fish dish in the world’, Ikizukuri is usually prepared with fish, but live frogs, octopus, and crustaceans are also in the menu.
In Japanese restaurants where such dishes are served, the chef removes the animal from a water tank in which seafood specimens are kept alive and proceeds to scale it and fillet the fish while it is still alive.
Usually Ikizukuri, roughly translated as "prepared alive", includes in the dish the head of the fish so the diners can see the gill covers still showing breathing movements. These dishes are usually served, similar to the traditional sushi or sashimi, with pickled ginger root, wasabi, lemon juice and soy sauce to enhance its flavor. Sake is deemed a good match for this sort of sashimi.
Followers of live sushi/sashimi claim the taste of live seafood is superior to the other presentations of Japanese food because of the unquestionable freshness of the animals. Despite the many criticisms from animal lovers around the world, there are many restaurants offering this variety of sushi in Japan. Live sashimi is criticized in most countries because of ethical concerns, and Ikizukuri is illegal in Germany and Australia.
Fish served as ikizukuri.
Fish served as ikizukuri.
Recently, a letter posted in addressed to Kenichiro Sasae, the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., asks Japanese authorities to end the "live sushi” gastronomic custom. The petition has reached over 61 thousand signatures so far.
The author of the letter, Cheryl Guerriero, from Boston, MA, United States, explains that she learnt about this culinary practice in Japan and writes: "This barbaric, vulgar and unnecessarily cruel practice is truly a shame on the Japanese people."
Although many seafood lovers would not have much problem about eating live oysters in the half shelf, to many, eating a live fish is cruel and unethical. What is your opinion on this matter? Please, have your say in the comment section below.
More about Ikizukuri, live sushi, live sashimi, Japan, Japanese food
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