The first time you ate sushi, you were a little nervous. It may have even been your second attempt after psyching yourself out the first time. After you ate that basic salmon and avocado roll, though, you instantly got it. A little wasabi here, a little soy sauce there, and the idea of raw fish became normal. What once was frightening quickly became desirable. Soon, you were offered beef tartar. People eat beef rare, so why not try it raw? It was delicious. You, again, were hooked. The raw food protein thing wasn't as bad as you thought it'd be.
More recently, you opened your internet browser. You saw a delicately prepared tray of raw chicken. No, you didn't read that wrong. Chicken sashimi is trending, and we don't get it.
Everything you've ever known tells you chicken is dirty. It's ridden with salmonella. If anything touches raw chicken, it must be sanitized. Have you seen "Bar Rescue"? If Jon Taffer sees someone using a utensil that has touched raw chicken on another dish, he freaks. And, we'd argue, it's justified. The Japanese feel differently, though.
Of late, chicken sashimi is blowing up in Japan and, thus, on social media. People are apparently eating it and enjoying its unparalleled succulence. So what's the beef? Why does raw chicken have such a stipulation surrounding it in America? Why is it OK in Japan?
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It may come down to how the chicken is produced and handled in the states versus Japan. We won't get into too many details, but if a chicken is raised in a Food Inc.-style setting versus a serene small farm on the hillside, well, we know which one we'd pick to eat raw first.
However, that still doesn't stop the fact that food safety is always something to be aware of, especially when it comes to raw chicken sashimi, where not only is it raw meat, it's raw poultry. The Japan Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare have stated that serving raw chicken poses a food poisoning risk and suggests the chicken is cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 75-degrees (which is 165 in degrees Fahrenheit) to aid in digestion.
Still, Japan's Ministry of Health isn't stopping too many people from digging into an undercooked chicken. According to the ministry, campylobacter, a harmful bacteria found in the intestines of chickens is the cause of most foodborne illnesses in the country.
There's something still so inherently wrong about the whole concept, though. Looking at photographs of chicken sashimi, our stomachs turn. If yours doesn't, more power to you. It's hard to say whether Americans will adopt this concept but, if it does, you won't find us rushing to try it.
This post was originally published in September 2017.