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Food Basashi 馬刺し

Basashi (馬刺し) is the Japanese term for raw horse meat.

Basashi (馬刺し basashi or umasashi) is a Japanese dish consisting of thin slices of raw horse meat (raw horse meat sashimi).

The Japanese tradition of eating horsemeat comes from regions famous for horse breeding. The oldest sources indicate that basashi was eaten by a unit of daimyō Katō Kiyomasa (1562–1611) during the Korean expedition when the force was cut off from food supplies. After Kiyomasa took power over the province of Higo (now Kumamoto Prefecture ), the story grew into a legend, contributing to the increase in the popularity of basashi. The dish is considered a speciality of Kumamoto Prefecture.

Outside Kumamoto prefecture, basashi is also popular in Aomori, Nagano , Yamanashi , and Fukushima prefectures (Aizu region). The annual consumption of basashi in Japan amounts to 23,000 tons. Most meat is imported from North America and Europe, either processed as semi-finished products or as live animals, which are then fattened in Japan before being slaughtered. Horse meat of Japanese origin is only a tiny percentage of the total meat consumed in this country.

The liver, tongue and mane meat are especially valued. The highest quality meat is considered to be from the area around the ribs of the animal. Basashi is commonly eaten with grated ginger, grated garlic, sliced smoked garlic, hot spices, and soy sauce. In kaiten-zushi establishments (the staff sets the dishes on a belt moving around the premises), you can find basashi (also fried) prepared as sushi. Thin slices of basashi eaten with nattō (fermented soybeans) are called sakura-natto.

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