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Sushi/Sashimi Grade Tuna

What does this term actually MEAN?? I've had a long, somewhat fruitless search of the web.... But I can't come to any type of conclusive definition. I work in a seafood department, but the higher-ups did not educate us on the dynamics of this term. It causes customers to become suspicious of the tuna or bicker among one another. SMH... Anyone have ideas of what to tell these folks?

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  1. What does it mean beyond that you can safely eat it raw? Calm your customers by telling them it's a #1 grade fish, rather than, 2 or 3, and so to speak they are eating "prime" fish.

    1. Assuming you're in the US, your 'higher-ups' won't want you to tell the customers the truth, because the truth is that there is no official, independently established grading system for fish...at least not the way beef is graded. To me, when I see "sushi grade" or "sashimi grade" in a seafood case, I think of it as a marketing tool to jack the price. Am I being a little cynical? Perhaps. I'm lucky enough, tho, to be able to recognize good fish when I see it, because my grandfather was a commercial fisherman, then ran a fish store, and many years later, I worked in a sushi bar.

      1. it implies that the tuna is of high quality and can be used raw. There is no official conclusive definition. The fish is graded on fat content, color, and freshness with grades 1,2 and 3 but it is a subjective rating. There is no governmental rating that I know of. If you feel your fish is of high quality, is fresh, has been stored well, has good color, fat content and is not fiberous then I would tell them it is grade 1 sushi grade tuna.

        1. I think sushi grade tuna has been frozen under certain conditions to kill parasites so one would be able to consume it raw (or at least that's what it's supposed to be). I think that explanation would satisfy your customers.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Miss Needle

            I think tuna is the only fish not required to be frozen for raw consumption. Some how I don't think the word frozen would wow customers.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              FWIW someone on another thread (I think this board) stated that tuna is not susceptible to parasites that harm humans.

              I'll bite...

          2. Thanks for the replies! I'm still a little vague on exactly what I should say, however.

            3 Replies
            1. re: caramelkarma

              have you informed supervisors the ambiguous answer is perhaps turning away consumers of a highly perishable product and if they and upper management don't want to throw it in the trash, maybe they would like to come up with a decent response - not a lie, but one that assures.

              I'd not take it upon myself to craft that message as liability issues can easily come into play.

                1. re: Barry Foy

                  How is the OP's question moot if bluefin tuna isn't extinct?

            2. Sashimi grade typically means it has been frozen under a formula by the FDA. Most fish is required by law to be frozen to be served as sushi/sashimi in the US. Tuna such as Sacu block typically comes from Indonesia so freezing is the only option.
              The whole #1 vs #2 Vs AAA grade is absolutely meaningless. Do not be misled into thinking that fish has been graded for any reason other than marketing by many vendors. Each purveyor has their own grading system so you are totally at their mercy. There are no regulations on the Sashimi grading system. The other fish in your counter may well be a higher grade than the #1 sashimi. Overall the retail markets use this as a tool to increase prices and to be honest you can find on line vendors that sell Sashimi grade a lot cheaper than most retail markets.