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Aug 4, 2011 01:49 PM

Is most sushi fish frozen?

On another CH board someone stated that almost all fish used for sushi has been previously frozen to ensure that all parasites are dead. In doing a bit of research on this, I'm finding lack of clarity re this subject, but have learned that tuna does not require freezing because itvis apparently resistant to parasites. Is it true that even at the finest sushi restaurants in the US (Urasawa, Nobu, etc.) that all the fish aside from perhaps tuna has been previously frozen?

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  1. Almost all fish is frozen that is caught offshore. The reason is obvious if you think about it. There are enormous fuel costs involved in taking a large fishing vessel several hundred(or thousand) miles offshore. These ships have a large frozen cargo capacity. How could the fishermen afford to catch a few netfuls of tuna or any fish and head right back to shore from say 150 miles out in the ocean. They plan on fishing for days to fill their boats. If not frozen the fish would be in worse condition that if it they had been frozen. If you want unfrozen fish, go down to the sports fishing marina when the boats come in and see if you can bum or bribe your way into some of their day catch. By the way, having fished on a tuna boat 150 miles off the coast of Baja, I will tell you that ahi should be chilled overnight for the best sushi. The flesh firms up. It is better than eating it minutes after it has been caught.

    1. All the research I have done points to yes. The FDA requires that fish meant to be eaten raw must be frozen. So if you purchase something in the store labelled "sushi or sashimi grade", you are getting previously frozen fish. And it is delicious!

      2 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        I don't believe the "FDA requires that fish meant to be eaten raw must be frozen." They do recommend:

        "Freezing and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time), or freezing at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours, or freezing at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 24 hours is sufficient to kill parasites."

        But I don't think they require it.

        For more, see

        1. re: drongo

          The post is old, but seeing as it popped up near the top of a Google search. The FDA does require fish that is served raw to be frozen beforehand.

          "Except for raw molluscan shellfish, certain species of large tuna, certain aquacultured fish, and fish eggs that have been removed from the skein and rinsed, if fish are intended for raw or undercooked consumption, they must be properly frozen before they are served."

      2. I'm glad Josephnl brought this topic back up. I must say I remain confused.

        I think FDA just makes a recommendation and any enforcement there might be (and it's doubtful that there is any) is left to local health departments.

        It also seems that it depends on which type of fish or shellfish you are dealing with -- certain species, such as salmon, are highly prone to parasites, so those would be targeted for the recommendation while species at low inherent risk, as well as certain fish grown in aquaculture, seem to be exempted.

        1. There certainly are (or in recent years have been) some restaurants that openly advertise that they use fish that was never frozen in their sushi. Just a couple of examples (Miami and San Francisco):

          Trevor Corson, in "The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice," has written that "the FDA recommends that distributors or restaurants freeze *all* fish that will be served raw... The FDA simply issues recommendations. Individual states must implement their own regulations, and many have. As of summer of 2006, California still had no statewide codes to enforce fish freezing."

          1. This NY Times article dealt with the subject in 2004

            chowhound discussion mentioned that article here

            and a sushi restaurant worker (in Japan and in LA) in that thread said that in their experience the majority of fish sold in good sushi bars is not frozen.