Negitoro is a particular way of eating raw tuna by mincing sashimi quality tuna, and Negitoro Don is a bowl of rice with Negitoro on it. It is a very simple donburi (rice bowl) dish, but it is so tasty with a slightly sweet soy-based tare (sauce).
Negitoro is very similar to fish tartare, but the minced fish does not contain any seasonings or minced vegetables. It is served with finely chopped green onions and soy-based sauce (tare).
People are often mistaken and think that Negitoro is always a dish made with minced toro (fatty tuna belly) and chopped green onions (‘negi‘ in Japanese). This is understandable because the name seems to imply it, and Negitoro is indeed often minced tuna that’s accompanied by chopped green onions. But it is not quite the case.
About Negitoro (Minced Raw Tuna)
Although the name contains the word ‘toro’, it is not made from the expensive fatty belly meat of tuna, known as ‘toro’ (トロ). The tuna flesh used to make Negitoro are specifically the meat scraped off the skin and bones. This meat is oilier and in my view, tastier than the red meat of tuna sashimi.
According to one story, the word ‘negitoro’ (ネギトロ) came from the verb ‘negitoru’ (ねぎ取る, meaning scraping off around the bones), which then became negitoro over time.
What’s more, though the name includes the word for green onions, ‘negi’, the minced tuna made from scraped flesh without green onions is also still called Negitoro.
In the mid 20th century, a sushi restaurant in Asakusa discovered that the aftertaste of the fat from the scraped tuna fresh becomes lighter by mixing in chopped green onions. So, they started serving Temakizushi with tuna mince and green onions inside, calling it ‘neghitoro’. The combination of rich tuna, green onions, and yaki nori (roasted seaweed) became popular because of a good mix of flavours and taste.
At a sushi restaurant, you will see sushi items such as ‘negitoro maki’ (ネギトロ巻き, sushi rolls), ‘negitoro gunkan’ (ネギトロ軍艦, boat-shaped sushi), and ‘negitoro temaki’ (手巻き, hand-rolled sushi). These are different presentations of sushi with Negitoro.
Negitoro is also served without rice as a nibble. In Japan, you can buy minced tuna (negitoro) ready to use at supermarkets.
What’s in My Negitoro Don (Minced Tuna on Rice)
As I unfortunately don’t have access to tuna bone meat, I had to make do with mincing the slightly fatty part of sashimi tuna by hand instead. This I think is the closest approximation, and is still delicious. If you are lucky enough to be able to buy Negitoro from a shop, use it instead of making your own. It is very difficult to make real Negitoro unless you can buy very fresh tuna bones and skins with some meat on it.
- Sashimi quality tuna, finely minced
- Cooked rice
- Finely chopped green onions
- Kizami nori
- A perilla leaf (optional)
It is ideal to use a fatty piece of tuna. Since toro (tuna belly) is quite expensive, I bought a tuna portion that was close to the belly. The perilla leaf is to place wasabi on.
- Cooking sake
- Soy sauce
- Dashi powder
If you prefer, you can reduce the sweetness of the sauce. Some recipes don’t even add sugar at all.
How to Make Negitoro Don (Minced Tuna on Rice)
It is just a matter of making tare (sauce) and placing minced tuna on the rice with the other toppings.
- Put all the Tare ingredients into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil, then cool it down to room temperature or lower.
- Place cooked rice in a serving bowl, then add the minced tuna, covering the surface of the rice.
- If you are using a perilla leaf, place the leaf under the tuna on the side.
- Sprinkle chopped green onions and kizami nori over the tuna.
- Place the wasabi on the perilla leaf (if using), or on the side.
- Pour the tare over the tuna evenly and serve.
Negitoro Don is a super easy dish to make. Although tuna is meant to be the scraps from the bones and the skin, you can enjoy a fresh Negitoro Don with normal sashimi tuna. It is quite a different experience from the similar dish, Maguro no Zuke-don (Marinated Tuna on Rice).
By mincing sashimi quality tuna, you will experience quite a different texture of tuna. Negitoro Don is a simple dish, made by placing Negitoro (Minced Raw Tuna), green onions, and kizami nori on rice. A slightly sweet soy-based tare (sauce) is perfect for Negitoro Don.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 150g/5.3oz tuna (sashimi quality, note 1)
- 150g/5.3oz rice
- 1 perilla leaf (optional)
- 1½ tbsp green onion finely chopped
- Kizami nori
Put all the Tare ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil.
Let it cool to at least room temperature.
Chop tuna into small pieces and make a flat pile of the fish pieces on the cutting board.
Use a knife to mince them into very fine pieces, by simply dropping a blade onto the pile of fish pieces many times. Use two knives if you wish.
Put rice in a serving bowl, levelling the surface.
If you are using a perilla leaf, place the leaf on the side of the rice so that the bottom half of the leaf is on the rice.
Spread the minced tuna over the rice, covering the rice and the bottom half of the perilla leaf.
Scatter the green onions over the tuna, then pile the kizami nori in the centre.
Place wasabi on the perilla leaf (if using), or directly on the tuna.
Pour the Tare evenly over the tuna.
1. The real Negitoro is made from the fresh tuna meat scraped from the bones and the skin. Since it is very difficult for home cooks to obtain, I used a block of sashimi tuna that contains slight fatty meat. Tuna belly sashimi can be used to make the dish similar to the real Negitoro, but it is quite expensive.
If you can buy Negitoro in a pack, you should use it instead of making minced tuna from scratch.
2. You can reduce the amount of sugar if you prefer the sauce to be less sweet. You may want to taste test when mixing the ingredients.