• Some Japanese restaurants serve chicken sashimi. But should you eat it? (Flickr/banzainetsurfer)
Raw chicken dishes have been getting more attention.
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

17 Oct 2017 - 2:46 PM  UPDATED 18 Oct 2017 - 3:59 PM

Tuna and salmon sashimi are pretty standard at Japanese restaurants in Australia, as are other uncooked options such as kingfish and scallop sashimi.

But there's one Japanese sashimi that hasn't yet been embraced by Australians: chicken.

Search chicken sashimi on social media and you'll find countless images of the pink meat, either completely raw or flash boiled to provide a touch of colour, about to be consumed by diners in Japan.

Earlier this year US-based chef Marc Murphy caused a stir when he tweeted a photo of a plate of the Japanese delicacy. 

Most people who replied to his tweet were sceptical.

But the dish has plenty of fans in Japan.

And it's not just Japan where the dish has a market. Restaurants in Singapore, Malaysia and the US are serving chicken sashimi to a growing number of customers.

Ippuku, a Japanese restaurant in Berkeley, California, serves chicken sashimi, or torisashi, and says it's a popular item with a texture similar to raw tuna. 

"Each night we serve about one to two dozens of torisashi," Ippuku's chef and owner Christian Geideman tells Modern Farmer.

"And since we opened this place in 2010, we’ve been serving over 10,000 orders of it.”

Lydia Buchtmann from the Food Safety Information Council says eating raw chicken is considered unsafe in Australia.

"We wouldn't recommend it to eat," Ms Buchtmann tells SBS.

Microbes that can cause food poisoning, including salmonella, are naturally found in healthy poultry. 

"When chicken, or any poultry, is slaughtered they will have Salmonella,  ... as well as Campylobacter in their gut, so when they're slaughtered and processed the bacteria in the gut will contaminate the meat." 

Meat from larger animals, such as beef and lamb, is less likely to get contaminated, she says. 

The FSIC recommneds chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 75 degrees celcius to kill harmful bacteria and make it safe to eat.

Ms Buchtmann says she has not heard of any restaurant serving chicken sashimi in Australia. 

However, the situation is quite different in Japan.

Japanese chef Hideki Ii, who used to work at Tetsuya's in Sydney and now works at Shirosaka in Tokyo, says chicken sashimi is a renowned local delicacy in the southern part of the Kyūshū Island.

"Until recently chicken sashimi has been confined to Kagoshima, Miyazaki and a part of Ohita prefecture but today curious diners can sample this extreme form of sashimi in bars, pubs and yakitori restaurants in Tokyo as well as other large cities in Japan," he tells SBS.

"Chicken sashimi is by no means a proof of food safety in Japan but is eaten as a part of Japanese food culture, prepared by one of the traditional cooking methods and old food wisdom that have been passed down generations."  

 

Chef Eugene Lee, who is currently the head chef at Brisbane's Indriya, has prepared and eaten chicken sashimi overseas, and says the dish is prepared in a very precise way.

 

"There is an art to preparing raw chicken, just like how you prepare fugu, the poisonous puffer fish," Lee tells SBS.

"Most of the meat actually comes from the most inner part of the chicken breast, nearest to the soft bone. That is the safest part and is less likely to be infested with microbes."

Lee says the Japanese restaurant he worked out would only use capon, which is castrated chicken.

"The chickens are castrated because the chicken is bigger when it's castrated and the meat is less likely to have that very chickenish smell - that offputting odour," he says.

He says the chef would go out to the farm to see how the chickens were raised, the food they eat and the soil they walk on. Once the chicken is slaughtered it is delivered to the restaurant within hours and butchered by the chef using spotless knives and chopping boards which are only used for that purpose. 

"It shouldn't be butchered [on the farm] because if the butcher starts preparing it then you won't know if the chicken feet has come into contact with the chicken breast," Lee says. "We want to get the chicken whole so that the inner breast is still intact."

Lee says the breast meat can either be left completely raw as sashimi, or made as tataki and flash boiled for 10-20 seconds - a process which colours the chicken slightly but is too brief to kill any of the bacteria.

He says chicken sashimi is an acquired taste, but prepared correctly can be delicious. 

"I actually like it, it's really nice," Lee says.  

 

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