Last week’s post was about Mameshiba (まめしば / 豆しば), so this week I need to start with ば (ba). I decided to write about…
Basashi ( ばさし/ 馬刺し)
Basashi is raw horse meat. The word”basashi” actually comes from the words “baniku” (馬肉 / horse meat) and “sashimi” (刺身 / the general word for raw fish/meat) put together. Raw horse meat is also called “sakura” (桜) or “sakuraniku” (桜肉) because of its pink colour, although I don’t think it looks much like cherry blossom myself!
To be honest, the picture above does make me feel a little bit ill, but I understand that basashi is something of a delicacy in certain places. Of course Japan is not the only country where horse can be found on the menu; China is the world’s biggest producer and it can also be found in European countries such as France. While living in Japan, I don’t think I ever saw basashi on a menu but, as a pescetarian, I wasn’t exactly looking for it. Basashi is particularly popular in Kumamoto, Nagano and Oita, and it is common in the Tohoku region as well. While horses are often imported for their meat, a lot of the horse meat does come from locally reared animals too.
Raw horse meat is served in Japan dipped in soy sauce, often with ginger and daikon (Japanese radish), and you can get it at some izakayas (Japanese bar/restaurants). I’ve never tried it (and wouldn’t, as I don’t even eat “regular” meat like beef) but according to this very well written article, horse meat is “lighter and less gamey than beef“.
Baniku can be used like any other meat, and is not just eaten raw. It can be used as a pizza topping, and even as an ice cream flavour! This ice cream, made by a company which is famous for their unusual flavours, is actually called “basashi ice cream”, and I believe it really does contain horse meat.
Of course, there is a lot of controversy around the idea of eating horse meat, and it’s certainly not something you would find on every menu in Japan. Many people consider the idea of eating horses as strange as the idea of eating their pet dog, but dogs are eaten in some countries, too. There is also a belief that meats such as horse, whale and dolphin are only really eaten because they are controversial, and people want to make a statement by eating something which is so taboo. I know many people (Japanese and otherwise) who would not touch basashi or baniku, but I also know some who love to eat it. Would you?
Basashi (ばさし) ends with し (shi), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “shi”. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below! And, don’t forget, no words ending in ん! (^_^)v