Sushi shop owners need to take extra care in sourcing their sushi grade fish and other ingredients for sushi. This will help keep people trusting them. You may be wondering if sushi grade seafood is safe to eat raw.
Continue reading to learn more about the meaning of “sushi grade” and which seafood is best for creating sushi rolls.
What is Sushi Grade Fish?
Sushi grade fish, also known as sashimi or sushi grade fish, is an unregulated term that allows you to identify fish that are safe for raw consumption. To reduce the risk of foodborne diseases, most fish sellers will use the term “sushi quality” when describing the supply of fish. This involves freezing the fish before it is sold.
There is no standard for sushi grade fish. You shouldn’t trust a label indicating sushi grade. It’s not regulated so the term sushi grade could be used to market fish and avoid consequences.
FDA Regulation on Raw Fish
While there aren’t any guidelines to help determine whether a fish is sushi-grade, the Food and Drug Administration has regulations that govern the handling of raw fish. The FDA has information about the safe temperatures and times that fish species must be kept at in order to be considered safe. These guidelines are what the FDA calls the “Parasite Destruction Warranty” and must be adhered to for most fish species once they have been caught.
- For 7 days, freeze and store at a temperature of -4°F (-20°C) or lower
- For 24 hours, freeze at a temperature of -31degF or below to solidify.
- For 15 hours, freeze at a temperature of -31degF or below to solidify.
Low temperatures kill parasites in fish caught at low temperatures. This process must be started as soon as the fish has been brought to the boat. The fish must be caught quickly, bled, gutted, and frozen within 8 hours after leaving the water. It is not easy to keep a fish safe from being eaten raw.
What is the Best Fish for Sushi?
Certain fish are more vulnerable to parasites that others. This is why it is important to be familiar with the species of fish before you buy anything with a sushi-grade certification. These are the most commonly used fish types (except shellfish) in raw sushi and sashimi.
- Tuna- tuna is resistant to parasites and can be eaten raw without any processing. These include albacore, bigeye and bluefin as well as bonito, skipjack and yellowfin tuna.
- Salmon – When purchasing salmon for raw consumption you should steer clear of wild-caught salmon and choose farmed salmon. Wild salmon spend some of their lives in freshwater, which puts them at higher risk for contracting parasites. Aquacultures raise salmon in safe environments that are free of parasites.
- Yellowtail- Sushi restaurants often list yellowtail under the Japanese name Hamachi. Consume yellowtail in moderation as it can contain high levels of mercury.
- Flounder/ Halibut – Both halibut (and flounder) are interchangeable. Flounder is a general term that covers the entire flatfish family, which includes halibut. Hirame , the Japanese term for halibut/flounder, is Hirame .
- Gizzard Shad Also known as Kohada.
- Mackerel This type of fish is also known as saba, aji. Mackerel can have high mercury levels and is often treated with vinegar before being served.
- Seabass () Also known as Tai and Suzuki this fish is usually treated with vinegar before being served. This fish is high in mercury so it should not be consumed in excess.
- Farmed fish The A aquaculture raises fish that are less likely to get parasites. They are safer to eat raw.
- Warning! Freshwater fish can be susceptible to parasites. They should not be eaten raw. To kill parasites in freshwater seafood, cook it thoroughly before you serve.
How to Buy Sushi Grade Fish
To ensure sushi-grade fish is safe and fresh, restaurant owners should inspect it. First, find a reliable fishmonger or market to source your seafood. Ask your neighbors where you can find their fish, and check out reviews online. You should expect regular deliveries and knowledgeable staff at the location. Ask the market manager these questions to determine if fish is safe to eat raw.
- What is the definition of “sushi grade fish?”
- Is the fish sustainably sourced
- What length of time has the item been in the shop for?
- How often is the fish processing machinery cleaned?
It is also important to be familiar with the characteristics of fresh seafood. These are some of the aspects:
- It smells just like seawater and not spoilage
- Clear, slightly bulged eyes
- Red gills
- Firm flesh
- Scales that are in good condition
- Not slimy
How to Keep Sushi Grade Fish Fresh After Purchase
To reduce food-borne diseases, it is important to care for your sushi fish once you have bought it. Seafood should always be shipped on ice. You can either refrigerate the fish or freeze it immediately, depending on how you intend to use it.
To prevent frozen fish from falling into the temperature dangerous zone below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4° Celsius), Thaw frozen fish in the fridge. To ensure sushi quality fish, clean your workspace, tools and hands before you serve your sushi rolls.
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