Say it with me: bah-saw-she. Good.
And as the title of this post may have led you to believe, yes, it is what the Japanese call raw horse meat (and yes, it is for eating).
It is a speciality in Kumamoto, on Japan's island of Kyushu, and luckily for me, Kumamoto is where I have found myself hanging around recently.
After enjoying a delicious, but less than filling bit of falafel (yes, I found falafel), I inquired with falafel-maker-san asking if he knew of a good place to get me some basashi. And it turns out I asked just the right guy. He directed me to a place a few blocks away where they had, “very good, but kind of expensive” basashi.
I figured if I was going to eat raw horse meat, then it had might as well be good raw horse meat; so I was actually rather glad to hear that it was not going to be the McDonald's of raw and potentially dangerous meats.
Typically basashi is dipped in soy sauce and served with garlic or Japanese horseradish (only fitting).
So what does it taste like?
Well, basashi is served cold (near-frozen in the middle), and is intended to be eaten this way (has something to do with deadly bacteria).
I could not help but imagine myself eating a horse the entire time I was chewing (an idea that American society has arbitrarily taught me to be wrong), and this surely had some effect on my opinion of the taste. If I believed that I was eating some other animal, then I might have felt differently about the flavor.
I guess I will just have to go eat more basashi goodness to know for sure.
If you can get over the mental hurdle of imagining yourself chowing down on a little pony, then the “disgusting factor” is relatively non-existent. Sure, you may have been taught growing up that eating or even handling raw meat is not something to be taken lightly, but ultimately you are not going to be served something that is going to kill you – so eat it.
For all my kosher friends out there, basashi is quite literally the opposite of what you would typically be permitted to eat (but hey, at least there's no dairy), but should you (kosher or not) find yourself willing to take a chance with some exciting new food, then get yourself some raw horse meat.
Our chef came out to the table and talked with us a bit about Japan and our now consumed meal. He was incredibly grateful to falafel-maker-san for having recommended the restaurant to us, and he wished us well on the our continuing Japanese journeys.
“Now you can no more ride horse” he says as we are about to walk out the door. Funny guy this one, funny guy.
The final word? Go out there and eat some horse.