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Where to get sushi grade fish

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Does anyone know if this is available locally (outside the sushi restaurants that is). I found a website that has gotten some good reviews (http://www.catalinaop.com/) but they have a pretty hefty shipping fee of $20 so I'd have to buy a ton to get my money's worth.

Also, is it really true that most sushi restaurants in the country use frozen fish for their sushi?

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  1. I believe FDA regulations require that for fish to be served "raw", it must first be frozen. Is that true only for sushi sold in restaurants? I would imagine that even for a fishmonger to sell fish labelled as fit for sushi/sashimi, the requirement that the fish be first frozen will apply.

    Not a link to the law, but convincing: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/08/nyr...

    1. Freshwater fish is always frozen. Most salt-water fish is, but not all. The freezing isn't as bad as it sounds-- if you can get fish cold enough, quickly enough, the effect is minimal on texture, etc. And we're all much safer for it. Talking to sushi chefs, some of the deepest-dwelling fish may not be frozen, but even so, they'll still have a fair number of parasites that you want a professional to size up.

      As an addendum: most sushi-grade fish is flash-frozen, something one can think of as akin to flash-pasteurized. Say 30 minutes at something well below freezing in any measurement system. The effect is a bit different than 48 hours at 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

      And I would wager that every fish at Whole Foods has been frozen at some point (though I still love the store and respect differing opinions).

      To get a non-frozen (maybe) specimen, you'd need to go somewhere that is or has a direct supplier-- say San Miguel Seafood, or someone with a connection to Tsukiji fish market.

      1. DK Sushi on North Lamar sells very good quality of SG Fish at good prices.

        1. "Catalina" is an excellent company with quality products. And the shipping fee of $20 for receiving such high-quality fresh seafood is more than reasonable.

          And yes - most if not ALL sushi restaurants use frozen fish for their sushi. Reason #1? To be safe, nearly all raw seafood needs to be frozen for at least 48 hours in order to kill parasites. Reason #2? Seafood is a highly perishable product - only lasting 2-3 days at best; less if being served raw. To keep a constant pristine-fresh supply on hand at all times would be cost prohibitive.

          Think about it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Breezychow

            Actually, for reasons relating to flavor and texture, certain cuts and types of fish benefit from controlled aging. I know that Yasuda in NY ages fattier cuts of bluefin toro. Not for extended lengths of time, but for two of three days.

          2. Sometimes Korean grocery stores sell sashimi platters that you can order in advance. I wonder if any in Austin do this.

            1. Any Japanese market, and many Chinese markets, sell sashimi-grade fish. 'fraid it's been a while since my last visit to Austin, so I couldn't name a specific one.

              1. hell, sushi grade tuna is pretty easy to find, even HEB has it (i know, scoff scoff). one of my fave lunch solutions is to grab a $3 piece of sashima tuna, bring it home and sear it for like 2 seconds. slice it up over a salad or just dip in some tamari, got a $10+ lunch for a fraction of what it would cost in a resto.

                1 Reply
                1. re: NirvRush

                  I'd never scoff at HEB. I'm always grateful for our Texas chain whenever I get back after business travel. I like small artisan shops as much as anyone, but I'll give the HEB chain the credit it is due. Glad to hear even an ordinary HEB has the fish.

                2. The Whole Foods fish counter guys told me they get sushi grade tuna in on Fridays (The 360 location). I believe they said they get a whole fish and cut it up themselves. You might give them a call to find out for sure.

                  1. Quality Seafood at Airport and 290 is the best source for fresh and frozen seafood including oysters and crawdads in season. They supply many of the restaurants in town. They also have an oyster bar and restaurant side to the store with lots of daily specials including 1 1/2 # lobsters with drawn butter for $18.99 on Saturdays. http://qualityseafood.wordpress.com/ And yes, all fish sold as "sushi grade" has to be frozen by law. Now that doesn't mean that all sushi restaurants strictly follow that but they are supposed to.

                    Oh! and p.s. picked up some wild Sockeye salmon at HEB on Monday for $9/ lb (previously frozen) I love QS but that was too good a deal to pass up! Homemade gravlax by the weekend!

                    1. If you just want tuna and salmon, HEB Central Market (on 35th) has it - sometimes it's in the white coolers in the middle of the seafood section, but if you don't see it, just ask the fishmonger for the sashimi grade tuna/salmon; it comes frozen. The tuna is very good, I have not tried the salmon (it's tucked in my freezer). New Oriental Market on Airport Blvd has a frozen cut of yellowtail (hamachi) - they sell it at $19.99 a pound and usually the piece I pick up is $30. But it will make lots of sushi. DK sells ikura and the other standard stuff - he slices them and packs them in foodsaver bags - also a reasonable option.

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                      Central Market
                      4001 N Lamar Blvd # 100, Austin, TX