Arai is a traditional Japanese dish that’s often eaten as part of a meal.
It’s popular because it has an interesting combination of flavors and textures.
If you love Japanese food, this dish will be right up your alley!
What Is The Name Of The Dish?
The dish in question here is called “arai.” The word “arai” means “raw fish” or “uncooked fish.”
In Japan, arai can refer to any kind of freshwater fish, but most commonly it refers to tuna (tuna).
You may have heard of one other thing called “arai.” That would be a certain type of frozen dessert.
So if you want to get technical about this, then yes, arai does mean “frozen raw fish.” But don’t worry—you won’t need to know how to spell it when cooking it!
What Are The Main Ingredients?
The key to this dish is its freshness.
The rice must be cooked just before being served or else the texture of the rice will get mushy when it gets cold.
When making this dish at home, make sure to buy quality rice so that your finished product tastes great.
The other two main ingredients in the dish are seafood (usually salmon) and nori (dried sheets of algae).
Nori adds more flavor than the rice, but not enough to overpower everything else on the plate.
So don’t worry if there isn’t any nori left over after you eat your whole serving! You can use whatever kind of fish you like best or even leave out the fish completely and add some vegetables instead.
How Is The Dish Prepared?
The basic preparation begins by slicing off some of the center flesh from the tuna belly, leaving only the outer layer.
This process gives the meat a “crispy texture” when served on its own.
Next, take each slice of tuna belly and lay them over a piece of nori (seaweed).
The nori acts as a breading to keep the pieces together while they cook.
Then, add slices of cucumber, avocado, and sprouts onto one side of the nori sheet.
Finally, top everything off with a generous amount of wasabi paste.
To finish things off, place the whole thing in a bowl or container and serve it immediately after adding a bit more wasabi into each bite.
This dish can also be made using salmon instead of tuna—just make sure to use sashimi grade salmon.
It doesn’t matter if you choose to eat it cold or hot, but we highly recommend eating it warm so you can get all of those flavors mingling together.
What Is The History Of The Dish?
The word “a-rai” comes from the Kanji characters 良 (aryo) meaning good or nice, 好 (arai) meaning good, and 大 (daikon) meaning big.
The combination of these three words makes sense when talking about how delicious this dish tastes.
In Japan, there are two types of arai — one uses only tuna, while the other uses both tuna and salmon.
Both versions have been around since at least the 16th century, though they were originally created to serve royalty in the Edo period (1603 – 1868).
The tuna version was created by the famous chef Omoriyuki Eifuku, who served his version of arai to Emperor Meiji on July 7, 1906.
After tasting the dish, he said, “This is truly excellent! I want everyone in Tokyo to try it!”
As a result, the emperor had the dish served every day until World War II broke out in 1941.
After the war ended, the Imperial Household Agency took over control of all restaurants and banned serving foods like arai.
When the ban was lifted, however, people started making their own versions of the dish.
By 1954, there were more than 100 restaurants offering arai.
Today, there are still many places where you can get this tasty treat.
What Are The Different Variations Of The Dish?
In Japan, there are many ways to prepare arai.
You can find any number of them at restaurants all over Tokyo, particularly in neighborhoods like Roppongi or Shibuya.
Here are some common types of arais you might see on menus around Japan.
- Chirimen (or chiron) arai – This is one of the most basic varieties of arai. The name comes from the fact that it uses only dried wakame seaweed instead of fresh. This version tends to have more salt than other versions. Because it doesn’t use fresh ingredients, it’s also not considered vegetarian.
- Kanpyo arai – Kanpyo means “dried squid”, so this kind of arai is typically served with kani-konbu, which is dried kelp. This variety of arai tends to be less salty than other versions.
- Sashimi arai – Sashimi arai is the classic form of arai that uses thinly sliced, marinated raw fish fillets. If you want to make sashimi arai yourself, head to your local grocery store and pick up some tuna steak or salmon filets. Marinate them with soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, ginger, and wasabi paste, then put them under the broiler until they start to turn brown. Serve immediately after removing them from the heat.
- Shinko arai – Shinko means “raw seafood”, but this arai isn’t actually raw. Instead, it’s cooked by being steamed in a bamboo basket. Steaming gives shinko its unique flavor because steam cooks everything evenly without drying out the flesh. Shinko usually includes scallops, shrimp, octopus, sea bream, cuttlefish, and crab meat. The best parts of these ingredients are reserved for the center of the plate, while the rest is arranged around the edges.
- Maki arai – Maki means “wrapped”, so maki arai is basically a roll filled with whatever deliciousness you want (want to learn more about maki, read here). There are a lot of options here — you could get something simple like spicy tempura prawn, or go crazy with things like grilled lobster, avocado, and cucumber salad. Just remember that if you order a maki arai, you should expect to pay extra.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of The Dish?
According to the USDA Nutritional Database, one serving of this dish contains 3 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, and only 6 calories.
It also includes some vitamins such as vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin C, and niacin.
Thiamine helps support proper nerve function in the body, while vitamin C supports healthy skin, bones, teeth, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, muscles, and blood vessels.
Niacin helps keep your nervous system functioning properly by supporting the release of energy from the foods we eat.
The main source of niacin in this dish is sashimi tuna.
- The average American eats about 60% more than they need each day.
- Americans consume about 8 pounds of seafood per year. That’s almost half their daily recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Seafood is rich in essential nutrients like zinc, selenium, iron, copper, manganese, iodine, and calcium.
- Fish oil supplements may help prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, and stroke.
How to make the dish?
This recipe requires two ingredients: rice and sushi nori.
First, cook brown rice according to package instructions.
Then, cut strips of nori into thin ribbons using scissors or a knife.
Next, soak the nori in water until soft enough to mold easily but not too soft.
Finally, combine the rice and nori in a bowl and mix well.
What Are The Health Benefits Of The Dish?
The main ingredient in the dish is usually salmon or tuna, but some chefs use other types of seafood such as clams, octopus, eel, prawns, squid, crab, and shrimp.
The seaweed used to make the dish can also vary depending on the chef’s preference.
While there are no official studies about how healthy the dish really is, many people swear by it.
Some believe that eating a variety of different kinds of seafood will help boost their immune systems.
In general, foods high in protein like fish tend to have more omega-3 fatty acids than those low in protein.
Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation and improve heart function.
They can also lower blood pressure and increase good cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish (such as mackerel, sardines, herring), flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans, algae, and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.
Some restaurants offer a version of the dish without any shellfish.
If you want to try this out for yourself, read our guide to making sushi at home.
What Are The Side Effects Of The Dish?
The main ingredients in the dish include seaweed (nori), salmon, scallops, tuna, and other types of seafood.
The recipe also calls for soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, sake, mirin, salt, egg whites, and sake lees — which are leftovers from making sake.
If you have any kind of allergy to these ingredients or if you don’t like them, you can try substituting another ingredient instead.
Here are some alternatives you could use:
- Dashi stock powder (instead of soy sauce) – Dashi stock powder contains kombu, bonito flakes, and dried anchovies.
- Wasabi paste (instead of horseradish) – Wasabi paste contains mustard seeds, wasabi root, and green coloring.
- Ginger paste (instead of ginger) – Ginger paste consists of ground ginger mixed with water.
- Mirin (instead of sake) – Mirin is a sweetened wine used as a cooking ingredient.
- Sake lees (instead of soy sauce) – Sake lees is a byproduct of making sake. You can find it at Asian grocery stores or online.
In addition to the above-mentioned ingredients, there are many more optional items you may want to add to the mix.
For example, you might want to put sliced cucumber on top of the arai before serving it so that it doesn’t get too mushy while eating it.
(Note: If you do decide to make the dish yourself, check out our guide to making homemade sushi.)
Is The Dish Suitable For People With Allergies?
As we mentioned above, arai is traditionally served in restaurants, but there are many recipes online where you can make your own at home.
Some recipes call for seafood such as crab or lobster, which may cause allergic reactions if consumed by someone who doesn’t tolerate shellfish well.
However, if you have no issues eating seafood, then you should feel comfortable making this delicious dish yourself.
You might also want to check out our article on how to get rid of shrimp allergy so that you don’t end up having any more problems trying to enjoy this amazing dish!
- 1 cup uncooked short-grain white rice (or brown)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup water
- One 1-inch slice ginger root
- Two 2 x 3/4 inch pieces kombu kelp
- 8 ounces fresh salmon fillet
- ¼ tablespoon sesame oil
- Soy sauce
- Wasabi paste
How to cook the dish
To begin cooking the arai, start by rinsing the rice under running water until all of the starch is removed.
Then place the rice into a medium pot along with ½ teaspoon of salt and the ¾ cup of water.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the rice for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
The rice should become tender when tested with a fork.
If needed, add additional water during the cooking process to ensure that the rice cooks properly.
Once cooked, take the rice off the stove and allow it to cool down.
You can serve the arai straight from the pot or transfer it to individual serving bowls.
For each bowl of arai, lay out some sheets of nori seaweed.
Next, add one slice of ginger root and two slices of kombu kelp across the center of each piece of nori.
Place the salmon in between the ginger root and kombu kelp.
Then, drizzle a little bit of soy sauce onto the top layer of nori, followed by wasabi paste.
Finally, cover everything with another thin layer of nori and gently roll the entire thing up like a cigar.
When finished rolling, cut the arai into bite sized portions using scissors.
What Is The Best Time Of Year To Eat The Dish?
You can enjoy arai any day of the week, but some days are better than others.
The best time to try arai is on a hot summer’s day when the air is warm enough to make eating outside enjoyable.
It’s also important to have plenty of water nearby if you decide to eat this dish outdoors.
You may get hungry fast after enjoying arai, so having a drink nearby can help keep you from getting dehydrated.
When should you avoid eating arai?
- Avoid cooking or preparing arai while pregnant.
- People who experience heartburn or acid reflux.
- Those with diabetes or other health conditions that require them to pay attention to their sugar levels.
- Children under 5 years old.
- The bowl
- 10 pita halves
- 1/2 cup oil
- coarse salt
- tomatoes cut in half
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion very finely chopped
- bunch of parsley chopped
- 1 tomato finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Ta’amti Harissa
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 cup Mighty Sesame Tahini
- 1 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 juice lemon
Prepare the Arais
- Mix all the arais ingredients thoroughly in a big bowl.
- Each pita half should contain two tablespoons of the beef mixture.
- Place all of the filled pitas side by side in a container that can be sealed. Refrigerate for up to six hours after covering and wrapping the container with plastic wrap.
- Blend the tahini paste, water, minced garlic, and lemon juice to create the techina. Add salt and pepper, then put the food in an airtight container.
- In a cooler or insulated bag, place the container with the filled pitas right on top of the ice. Keep the techina in the cooler or bag as well, and travel with the oil, an oil brush, and salt and pepper bag sets.