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What Does “Sushi Grade Fish” Really Mean?

When looking at recipes for using raw fish at home like sushi or Hawaiian poke, you’ll often see that they call for “sushi grade fish.” Available at many Japanese or Asian markets, you might think that this labeling refers to a higher quality fish. Well, that’s not exactly the case.

“Sushi grade” simply refers to the fact that the fish has been flash frozen at a designated temperature for a certain amount of time. The extremely low temperatures of this type of freezing kills bacteria and parasites, making the fish safe for eating raw when defrosted properly.

That’s right, the majority of fish served at sushi restaurants was at one point frozen. Unlike at home, industrial freezers freeze the fish extremely quickly, keeping the texture as good as fresh. It’s impossible to recreate this at home so when you’re trying your hand at sushi-rolling at home (which you should), stay safe and stick with fish labeled sushi grade.

  • Joe Consolini

    So can I freeze my own fresh salmon in my freezer to kill bacteria and parasites so I have my own sushi grade salmon for poke or do I need to flash freeze it in liquid nitrogen? How cold must it be and for how long? I’ve heard you should cover the fush in salt for a few hours first to remove as much water as possible before you freeze it.

    • Vijay – Editor @ NoshOn.It

      @joeconsolini:disqus To be honest, we wouldn’t recommend doing this yourself at home. The methods that commercial processors use is far more advanced and controlled than we reproduce at home. Your best bet is to purchase sushi-grade salmon from a good fishmonger. On tip, check your local Japanese supermarkets.