Seeking sashimi grade tuna in NJ
- Peter Borden
In order to satisfy my maguro/toro cravings without having to head to the local sushi bar, I was hoping to find some kind of asian market/grocer/fishmonger here in NJ where I can pick this stuff up. Though I appreciate bargains, quality and freshness are priorities. Any suggestions?
Assuming that you are going to eat this fish without cooking it, I would recommend that you try to find the freshest examples that are possible. I don't know about Chang's, but the Asian markets near me tend to have a very fishy smell around the fish departments. As you probably know, fish should not smell "fishy". If it does, then it is not fresh.
Chef Anthony Bourdain makes the statement in one of his books that the Asian markets in the metro area tend to buy their fish at the Fulton Fish Market at the end of the business day, when the prices have dropped, due to the fact that the fish has been sitting there (without refrigeration) for many hours at that point. I can't verify this, but it gives me cause for concern.
I would recommend that you buy your fish at Wegman's, due to the impeccably high quality of their fish.
we have traveled the metro area trying to find sushi grade fish, and 'han ah hreum' in little ferry was the place we kept going back to. they sell tuna pre-packaged in the refrigerated case, and sometimes fresh from the fish piles in the back.
we often bought an entire salmon for sushi, and it once came to $2.50lb! salmon was easier to get than tuna...many places told us that while their tuna was fresh, it was not sushi grade. we appreciated their honesty. we've also gotten whole flounder there, and eel is in the frozen foods, seasoned and cooked already.
you need to know how to buy the freshest fish, and what to look for, and make sure the fish guy knows you want sushi grade. sometimes, if they dont understand (or dont care), they might just shake their head in agreement...so as a test, we would feign innocence, and would point to an old looking fish and ask them if that was sushi grade too...depending on their answer, we would know what they were selling us. if they refuse to sell you a fish, you found a decent place to shop.
we also found out that many sushi restraurants that dont have the huge turnover as in the metro area, swear by frozen sushi grade fish that can be bought on the internet.
once or twice we even talked to the fish guy at shoprite and he went behind the closed doors and came back with the freshest, flash-frozen, farm raised salmon he had. while i cringed from the whole idea--- to our surprise, it did not taste much different from some of the sashimi we've tasted right up at the bar.
mitsua also had good pre-packed tuna, though expensive. i once saw the sushi chef grab a piece from the case to make the rolls they sell at the store.
please post your adventures! thanks
I have no idea why people keep referring to Han ah reum for sashimi grade fish. Their sashimi fish is frozen, comes from a vacuum pack and usually the tray it comes with is dripping with liquid. Their fish selection as far as sashimi grade is pretty limited and most likely their fish isnt prepared properly ie soaking in vinegar to kill parasites.
Also salmon is one of the worst fishes to eat raw because it contains so many parasites. Most reputable sushi places dont serve salmon unless it is frozen first, but most wont serve anyway.
The selection at mitsuwa is amazing, they have different grades of toro most of the time. And the fish mongers there know their stuff and will tell you where the fish came from.
You might try King Fung chinese grocery on Kinderkamak in River Edge. I havn't bought tuna to eat raw there but their seafood section is one of the better I've seen in NJ and it's cheap too. Cheaper than any of the American grocery chains.
I'd also try Mitsuwa Japanese grocer on River Road in River Edge. They have great fish and meat there but it is very pricey.