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sushi salmon question

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do I absolutely have to use 'sushi grade' salmon to make sushi? I'm thinking about picking up some salmon from a local supermarket (Dominon in Toronto) this afternoon to make some maki rolls for tonight. How risky is it to do that?

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  1. Some say I have a strong stomach, others (my stomach) would disagree. However, I recently made the tuna and fried green onion recipe from this site, alas, with 'regular' bluefin tuna, because the store didn't have sashimi grade. Even though they warned me, I had no problems whatsoever. I often serve (regular) salmon medium-rare, as in 'still raw inside'. No problems either.

    2 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      I always serve "regular" salmon medium rare, with no ill effects. However, I always buy wild Alaskan salmon, not the farmed North Atlantic. Although, recently a new fish monger told DH that Canadian laws pretaining to farmed fish are stricter than the U.S. Don't know how true that is.....

      1. re: Gio

        I make salmon tartare and gravlax out of wild salmon, but both of those have some curing to them, of course.

    2. Well, the chances of you getting contaminated fish is probably not terribly high, so if you so desire, using the market salmon is probably all right from the risk standpoint. However, grading, as far as I'm familiar with it, which isn't much, is more dependent on quality of meat, the firmness of the flesh and the fat content, rather than safety factors. I don't know what regulations are like in Canada, but in the US, all fish have to comply to certain FDA requirements, though there is no FDA sushi/sashimi grade.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ali

        That's very interesting, Ali. I always wondered whether the 'sashimi grade' referred to the quality of the fish or the safe-r handling of it... I do love my raw salmon.

      2. I don't know about Canada, but in the US, there's no such thing (officially, that is) as "sashimi grade" when it comes to fish...it's mostly a marketing term. Also, you have to be careful with salmon and other anadromous fish, because they are more likely to have parasites that, if eaten, can ruin your day.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ricepad

          Freeze prior to serving raw, which should reduce or eliminate parasites.

          1. re: scubadoo97

            Yes, and doesn't that actually happen at sea?

            1. re: Gio

              Freezing at zero degrees F for a couple of days will kill them (eliminate), but won't reduce them. I don't know if the holds of fishing boats keep the catch that cold, and there's no guarantee that they've been there for 48 hours, either. I'll eat a lot of strange stuff, but I'm not real big on eating parasites in my fish, alive OR dead.

        2. It is very risky. Wild salmon frequently has parasites and has to be specially frozen, checked with a special light, and defrosted before use. Farm raised salmon is far, far worse.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JudiAU

            I've read that farmed salmon is actually much cleaner as far as parasites are concerned (pollutants and chemicals are another matter).

            1. re: Humbucker

              Yes, I've also read that farmed is safer from parasites than wild. I actually prefer farmed salmon for eating raw; wild can be chewy and almost too "fishy" tasting.

          2. As noted elsewhere, in the U.S. "sushi grade" fish has no legal meaning - a seller may legally call any fish "sushi/sashimi grade"

            Also as noted, TTBOMK, the crux of the biscuit is the freezing.

            1. it is my understanding that in japan, most sushi eaters don't eat raw salmon- too many parasites, even in the best, top sushi grade fish. smoked salmon, cooked salmon, salmon skin, salmon roe, all things eaten without fear of parasites. i do believe that it is in the west that we started eating salmon raw, sushi style. please correct me if i am wrong, but when i've eaten at places like sushi of gari, yasuda, nobu, etc. , rarely is the salmon in the sushi not treated in some way (smoked, etc.). but choose your fish carefully if you plan to eat it raw. good luck and best- fb

              1 Reply
              1. re: frankbooth

                I cannot speak on behalf of most sushi eaters in Japan, but in my experience, raw salmon is offered and served at all sushi restaurants I've been to here, and is available in the super market for sashimi on a daily basis. I have heard from my friends here that salmon isn't the most popular fish as it is "nothing special" and is one of the cheaper options available. Personally, I love it, but I think it tastes like butter ;)

              2. As others have noted, there are no legal standards for sashimi grade, for any fish. What's more important is your relationship with your fishmonger. You want (as I'm sure you know) the absolute freshest fish, ideally from stock received that day and, even better, fileted right before purchase. If you can filet your own, so much the better.

                According to FDA regulations, all fish sold to be eaten raw must be frozen first, but enforcement is left to local authorities. Tuna, I believe, is the only exception -- but most tuna is prepared (gutted and bled) and frozen at sea anyway. Since deep ocean vessels are out for long periods of time this is a good thing.

                Because salmon lives part of it's life in fresh water it tends to have more parasites. Actually if eating parasites even when dead is abhorrent to you, there's no guarantee that any of your fish is parasite free. I freeeze all my salmon before cooking; my freezer gets cold enough.

                That said, there are excedingly few cases of fatalities -- or even severe illnesses -- from fish borne parasites in the US. You're far more likely to die in a firey car crash on the way to the restaurant or anywhere else.

                Like carblover I prefer farmed salmon for sushi -- the wild is,f or me, too strong. I do prefer the latter for cooking.

                1. I agree that a good relationship with your fishmonger is important. Being a Torontonian I wouldn't completely trust Dominion. I was at Bill's Lobster a couple of weeks ago and asked for sushi grade salmon and he would only sell me the Atlantic salmon, not the wild salmon. I would trust a place like Bill's or SLM before the grocery stores.