How Arai is different from Sashimi: Japanese Fish Dishes

Originally, “Arai (洗い)” is the noun form of “Arau (洗う)” that is the Japanese verb for “wash”, but when used in daily life, in many cases, the word refers to a fish dish similar to Sashimi.

Correctly, Arai is a cooking method of “Sengyo (鮮魚: fresh fish)” where the fresh raw fish is filleted and thinly sliced, but Arai is different in subsequent processes from Sashimi.

Arai vs Sashimi

Then, how exactly does the dish Arai differ from Sashimi? For the unfamiliar, this article will explain the difference. 


Tai no Arai

For Sashimi, a wide variety of fish and shellfish can be used, but the food material prepared for Arai is mostly white fish such as red sea bream, sea bass, flatfish, and Japanese horse mackerel, and freshwater fish such as carp and crucian carp.


In Sashimi, the fish is filleted then thinly sliced, whereas, in Arai, the thinly sliced fish is further washed with water (cold or lukewarm) to remove its fishy smell and excess fat, and soaked in ice water for a while.

Besides, unlike Sashimi, the fish for Arai needs to be very fresh and usually prepared before the rigor mortis occurs.

Taste and Texture

Arai Dish using Carp

The chilled fish for Arai has a light and fresh taste and a distinctive bouncy texture compared to Sashimi, and for these features, the Arai dish is preferably served during summer.

How to Eat

The chilled fish for Arai is eaten with shoyu (soy sauce) and wasabi (grated Japanese horseradish) or ponzu shoyu, and for the freshwater fish with a characteristic smell and taste, vinegared miso is often prepared.

(Reference Page: Wikipedia 洗い )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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