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"Sushi quality" fish

  • J.L. Jul 29, 2009 05:17 PM
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The Chowhound Team split this thread from its original location on the Los Angeles board

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I, too, buy a lot of my seafood from 99 Ranch (for cooking), BUT the Japanese markets just package the seafood so prettily, and they seem like they're meant for sushi-level consumption.

... Which brings up a topic I've wanted to discuss:

Is there such a thing as "sushi quality" cuts of certain seafood? What I mean is, is there a special designation of freshness, or "pristine-ness", to certain cuts of fish which make them especially sushi-worthy, or is it just anything you feel safe in eating raw?

Do the Japanese pre-designate certain cuts or certain critters for the sushi counter (as opposed to those fish only fit for further cooking)? Does such a dichotomy exist?

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  1. Yes and No. Yes Tuna is graded, but there is no single standard. Normally graded by fat content by the tail. #1 is Sashimi quality. Mostly though it's up the the Sushi chef what is in season from what part of the world and how to choose the highest quality from the best vendors. Most fish for sushi will be flash frozen and it's important that it's done very well.

    1. This was what I had in mind with my initial inquiry. The pre-packaged blocks of sushi fish. While I have had lovely fish from both Whole Foods and 99 Ranch as suggested, it is only the Japanese Markets (and some Korean, but I've had bad experiences.) that have the pre-packaged, cut for sushi fish. I have confidence in my knife skills but only on evil doers, I'm hopeless with fish ;-). Mitsuwa in Venice, eh? Who knew?

      1. Question

        "Is there such a thing as "sushi quality" cuts of certain seafood? What I mean is, is there a special designation of freshness, or "pristine-ness", to certain cuts of fish which make them especially sushi-worthy, or is it just anything you feel safe in eating raw?"

        Answer=NO Ther are no standards for "sushi grade"

        Question #2

        "Do the Japanese pre-designate certain cuts or certain critters for the sushi counter (as opposed to those fish only fit for further cooking)? Does such a dichotomy exist?

        Answer= Yes. Tuna especially and other species that are regularly use for Sashimi or sushi are graded for fitness. I worked in a Japanese owned fish market in the US. We got tuna and white seabass in every week. it was assumed that the tuna and white seabass would be sold for sashimi. The fish we got from the wholesalers were always in pristine condition. never frozen, no graf marks, no sign of abuse, We in turn handled the tuna as gently as possible. The butchers carried the tuna to the cutting board like you carried a baby, both arms, and gently laid the fish on the board. The tuna was never dragged, thrown or bounced. After butchering, the sections were returned to the frig and laid on a bed of ice. Again, not thrown or bounced or dragged. Everything was done to prevent damage to the meat. Unlike beef, mishandled fish regardless of freshness will separate under the knife.

        pre-wrap fish is not the enemy. Direct contact with air is. I have noticed that the fish sections in the markets are now converting to cases instead of open air displays. When I worked in the fish market, the sashimi and the fillets were always in the cases on ice, never out with the whole fish. We always cut to order. We never pre-sliced the fish.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bgazindad

          Thanks for the info!