Torisashi(鳥刺し)Chicken Sashimi



Torisashi (鳥刺し) is chicken sashimi. It’s a regional delicacy of Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures in Kyushu (southern Japan). The chicken for torisashi is no ordinary chicken; restaurants source the freshest and high-quality meat that’s then properly slaughtered and stored to avoid bacterial contamination. 
Interestingly, you will see supermarkets selling torisashi in the chicken meat aisle in Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures. It’s part of the local food culture that’s been eaten since the Edo period (1603-1867). 

Types of Torisashi

Like sashimi, torisashi is sliced thinly and dipped in soy sauce. Some are lightly seared or boiled for texture contrast. It’s eaten with aromatics such as grated ginger, garlic, or yuzu kosho (yuzu chili paste) for a punch of flavor. 
As there are many edible parts of the chicken, you can imagine the different offerings of torisashi. Here are some you may encounter:
  • Gizzards: dark red, it has a slightly crunchy texture 
  • Hearts: has the least fat content 
  • Liver: creamy and eaten with salt and sesame oil
  • Breast and thigh meat: the most common form, has a fibrous texture
  • Toriwasa (鳥わさ) or tataki (たたき): meat that is lightly seared outside, but still pink inside

Where to Find Torisashi

You can find torisashi specialty restaurants in Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, but elsewhere as well. Some yakitori (grilled chicken) restaurants may offer it on the menu. 

Risks of Torisashi

Raw chicken meat is often infected with campylobacter and salmonella. These nasty bacteria can give you food poisoning and cause diarrhea, nausea, and belly cramps. In the most severe cases, it may require hospitalization. These bacteria are usually lurking in the digestive organs, so a well-skilled chef would be able to break down the chicken without contaminating the meat. 
So as you can imagine, never make torisashi at home, and make sure you order torisashi from a reputable restaurant. 
To preserve this food culture, the Torisashi Association has imposed strict rules and regulations on handling raw chicken in restaurants serving torisashi. These measures include separating the knives and cutting boards for torisashi purposes, safely storing the meat before serving, and biannual testing. 
It’s a unique local specialty that does impose some risks but may be interesting to try if you’re in the area. It’s a different experience than eating fish sashimi. 
Note: If you have a compromised immune system, you should avoid raw chicken, along with all raw foods such as meat, eggs, and fish.