Sashimi chef Chris Gould admits he never ate raw fish until he was 21. But Gould, now 28, has made up for lost time by training under top sushi chefs, while applying his expertise in French and Spanish cooking to create inventive fusion cuisine.
At the helm of the newly redesigned Uni Sashimi Bar in Boston, Gould specializes in avant-garde interpretations of fresh seafood. His creations include Scottish salmon with fermented black beans and ginger, and sea urchin from Maine with quail egg yolk, caviar, and chives.
Whether breaking down a 150-pound tuna from local waters or a petite red snapper from the famed Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Gould acknowledges that slicing a rare catch costing $60 a pound or more doesn’t leave room for error. “It’s not like cutting up a cucumber,’’ he said.
What are the steps for preparing good sashimi?
First and foremost, the quality of the fish has to be absolutely fresh and treated very nicely from start to finish, not just thrown around in a box. Every fish is different in the ways that it needs to be prepared.
People love sushi or hate it. What would you suggest for a beginner?
I suggest the hamachi, a soft fatty white fish that has a nice texture. One of the biggest reasons people shy away from sushi and sashimi is the texture; they get a little sketched out by soft stuff.
I think one of the concerns when eating raw fish is freshness.
If we are serving saba from Japan, for example, it’s shipped overnight and we have it the day after it came out of the water.
How do you come up with new dishes?
Usually I start with a product I want to showcase, then play around with 20 or so different ingredients that would pair well with it. I try to incorporate unique flavors that complement the fish.
What’s the proper way to eat sashimi?
With a dab of soy from a chopstick, not dunked into soy like a swimming pool. Sashimi should be eaten with chopsticks, not your hands, while nigiri and maki [two types of sushi with rice] can be eaten with your hands. Maki and nigiri were the first forms of fast food in Japan.
What is your best knife?
I have a couple of favorite Masamoto knives. They are very well made and nicely balanced. A knife like that will cost you $500 to $600, but last forever.
What do you think of conveyer belt sushi that is becoming increasingly popular?
Conveyer belt sushi is about the worst form of sushi. Sushi is only good when it is fresh - warm rice and cold fish.