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Costco Ahi tuna...sushi grade?

I am assuming the ahi tuna at Costco is not sushi grade. I am wanting to make ahi poke, and most of the recipes call for sushi grade tuna. Any problems with using the Costco Ahi in it?

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  1. The term "sushi-grade" seems to get thrown around without anyone knowing what it really means... my dad is a sushi chef and I find it highly debatable on what gets defined as "sushi-grade". As a general rule, I look for "wild-caught" and "previously frozen" fillets. Fish caught for raw consumption is flash-frozen once caught to avoid making people sick.

    That said, you should be fine. If the quality of the tuna is anything like the salmon, it should serve your purposes just fine. I buy the salmon from Costco on occasion and slice it up to eat as sashimi or use in other raw dishes and we've never had any incidents. My only advice is to use it as soon as possible, no later than within 3 days refrigerated. You can tell when it's bad when it gets mushy and quite fishy-smelling.

    If you're highly concerned, I would look to your local fishmonger.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rinkatink

      I would be astonished if the Costco tuna isn't frozen on the boat as soon as it's caught -- most large fish is. How else so you think large fishing vessels can stay out for weeks and not have the early catch go bad? And the really valuable bluefin used in Japan for sushi is definitely frozen at sea -- at minus 70F on the newest boats.

      1. re: rjbh20

        Agree, most all fish are flash frozen at sea. So that toro that you were raving about yesterday was frozen.

    2. No, it'll be fine. Costco's ahi is usually pretty high quality.

      1. I don't go by names. I go by grade, IE: 1, 2, 3.

        #1 grade is what you will likely find in very high end Sushi restaurants. Price range is about $12.00 - $15.00 LB. and is typically supplied by high end seafood purveyors and usually has a paper trail.

        #2 grade is a common product supplied by many seafood purveyors. Price range is about $9.00 - 12:00 LB. Many very good restaurants serve this grade.

        #3 grade is what most retailers carry and also purveyors like Sysco & US Foods sell it in 10 lb cases. It is often cryovaced in portion size servings. Price range is about $7.00 - $9.00 LB

        These prices are off the top of my head and quite stale. Much imported tuna has failed inspection and been turned away in recent times which would put my $$ on the low side.

        Like quality beef, the markup on quality seafood is really not that high regardless of who is selling it so the ability to deeply discount it is not there.

        1. Study of one - I've had no ill effects from raw Costco tuna - both the frozen individually frozen pieces and the non-frozen pieces wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam tray.

          3 Replies
          1. re: KimMae

            I have had very good tuna as well from retail & wholesale clubs.

            I have also bought center cut loins of #1 grade Yellow Fin and #1 grade Big Eye from a high end purveyor friend and also bought whole fish at the dock at Viking Village in Barnegat Light NJ back in the day.

            The difference in quality is tremendous. By the way, so is the difference in price. Justification for the difference in price is up to the individual.

            IMHO, my answer to the OP would be if you can afford it and if its available I would go with a minimum of #2 grade tuna.

            If I went with #3, which is what you likely would get at a big box store, I would want it completely thawed and smell each piece prior to purchase. ANY odor other than that of the ocean don't buy it. Why, because big box stores and retail in general buy it frozen in 10 or 20 lb boxes. Often times it spent several months in a warehouse prior to arriving at the retail location and prolonged stays in a freezer, even when cryovaced, will result in a distinct fishy flavor that most people find unpleasant.

            I can buy 10 lb boxes of #3 Yellow Fin at close to what the big box stores pay for it. Have sent better than 25% of it back because of the problem in the paragraph above. I only buy #2 or better as a result.

            1. re: Tom34

              Good tip for future, however the tuna is already bought, just wondering about the raw preparation of it.

              1. re: cleopatra999

                My advice pertains to having a good product to work with and below are some tips to ensure you do. I am not however qualified to give advice on the safe preparation the product. Fortunately you are on the right site to seek advice from those that are qualified.

                I would start by smelling it after its thawed. If all you smell is the ocean your good to go. If your nose crinkles and you keep re-smelling because the smell bothers you, try rinsing it under cold water and re-smell. If it still is not quite right to your nose, you probable have a little freezer burn. Trim an 1/8 inch off every surface with a very sharp knife and make sure you get rid of any flesh thats dried out and lighter colored that the center. Then rinse again under cold water and re-smell.

          2. I would have no problem with using the Ahi at Costco for Poki.

            1. Just talked to Costco. They sell no tuna that is considered sushi grade, i.e. can be eaten raw. As it has never been frozen and is wild, it contains parasites. You would have to freeze it for a day to kill any parasites.

              23 Replies
              1. re: NJtoTX

                There are many species of fish that are used for Sushi that warrant concern with regard to parasites. Fresh water fish in particular. Tuna is not a high carrier of parasites & I have eaten a lot of tuna raw that was not frozen.

                Most of the tuna found in retail stores / wholesale clubs is IQF grade 3 or higher, from small imported fish and gassed with CO to give it that pink color.

                You will NOT find #1 grade Sushi tuna in a retail chain or wholesale club. An example of how rare it is, there are only about 2 or 3 purveyors in the entire city of Philadelphia PA that have grade 1. Most top Sushi Chefs in the Mid Atlantic region get it from Foulton Fish in NYC which is the 2nd largest seafood wholesaler in the world.

                There "Maybe" a Whole Foods type place where you might find grade 2 or 2a. Restaurant Depot may also have it.

                1. re: Tom34

                  How would a shopper determine the grade of the tuna? Would it be marked on a vacuumed package?
                  What about when buying fresh? Is the fishmonger willing to disclose this information?

                  Isn't any tuna that has been frozen safe to eat raw, since the freezing would have eliminated the danger?

                  Thanks for the information so far..this question comes up here in many forms over the years and I have never read a definitive answer...!

                  1. re: erica

                    Its tough with Tuna as both freshness & fat content determine grade. There are other factors which I would defer to a Sushi Chef, which I am not.

                    Most IQF vacuum sealed retail portioned tuna is going to be grade 3 and will have a brownish color. Recently, blasting tuna with CO produces a distinct pink color. This tuna is usually imported and cut from small fish.

                    For the average person, fat content is not critical, freshness is. The floating fish processing ships do a remarkable job processing & freezing the products. IMHO, they are not the problem.

                    IMHO, the problem lies with the wholesaler. Like the stock market, the seafood market goes up and down like a yo yo. If you are an importer, you want to buy low and sell high. This means sometimes IQF seafood sits longer than it should and fish does NOT hold well in the freezer like beef.

                    I have never seen "portioned" vacuum sealed tuna grade stamped, either on the individual packages or on the cases. Restaurant Depot does sell frozen grade 2 and 2a sushi grade tuna in whole and partial loins.

                    If you have a local fish monger, he should be able to bring in a good quality 5 - 7 lb loin section for you with the skin on for identification. (usually Yellowfin or Big Eye). Last one I bought , late 2013, was about $13.00 lb.

                    Key to judging any seafood is your nose. If it smells clean it will taste clean. If it has a fishy smell that crinkles your nose, it will taste fishy.

                    Frozen vs Fresh: 25 years ago I sold fresh tuna to restaurants that was packed in ice since caught but not frozen. The tuna loins sections I get from a buddy are not frozen, skin on and I cook them raw on the inside. Tuna is a low % carrier of parasites. You could portion cut a fresh loin section, vacuum seal and freeze if it puts you at ease, just don't leave it in the ice box more than say 3 months.

                    1. re: Tom34

                      Thanks so much for taking time to spell that out. What is IQF?

                  2. re: Tom34

                    1. Most top Sushi Chefs in the Mid Atlantic region get it from Foulton Fish in NYC which is the 2nd largest seafood wholesaler in the world.

                    I may have to disagree with you on this one....even Morimoto gets it from this source....the departed Sun Myung Moon and the empire he built.


                    1. re: fourunder

                      I may stand corrected Fourunder as my info is dated to back in the day (1980's) when I commercial fished. Back then there weren't nearly as many Sushi restaurants to justify supplying them locally and it was not just a quality issue but also product variety issue. The best products always followed the money. The Japanese brokers bought the best as price was no option to their customers in Japan, especially Giant Blue Fin. Boston was usually the next highest bidder which is where a lot of Viking Village's scallops went. NYC was the largest volume buyer overall as there was a much higher demand there for Sushi products & Foulton was the king. Many Sushi Chef's days started off by driving hours to get there because it was one stop shopping and the variety & quality was unparalleled..... at that time.

                  3. re: NJtoTX

                    I made this from Costco tuna and still living to tell about it

                        1. re: rjbh20

                          Go for it. Looks great

                          Is that a dish you've made before of one you're looking at replicating?

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            I do this all the time. The photo is a random example.

                          1. re: Tom34

                            Watch this space for tonite's episode,

                            1. re: rjbh20

                              Las promised, tonite's version. It was on the menu, then off, then back on by popular demand (aka suddenly hungry young athlete).

                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  Thanks. If you don't hear from me again, you'll know I was wrong about Costco tuna...

                                      1. re: rjbh20

                                        hope your dish tasted as good as it looked!

                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                          It was a good result and the customers were happy. Sort of an Asian interpretation this time, with a dash of sesame oil & soy sauce. Its a tremendously versatile dish and can go in any directly you want.

                                          The fish, BTW, was in perfect condition -- Costco is the only place I buy packaged fish & haven't ever been disappointed. Or hospitalized.

                      1. re: NJtoTX

                        Of course Costco will tell you it's not "sushi grade," because "sushi grade" is an ill-defined marketing term. If Costco were to have sufficient faith in its tuna to market it as "sushi grade," they would charge a lot more for it. Even Whole Foods will tell you their tuna is not "sushi grade." Like others, I have eaten plenty of very ordinary supermarket tuna and suffered no ill effects. There is a risk of bacterial contamination.

                        As far as parasites, most parasites in tuna are large enough in size to be quite apparent and can be removed with needle-nose pliers if you see any. Is it foolproof? No. But any fish that has not been frozen can harbor parasites. I have eaten tuna (raw) that was caught just minutes earlier. Fresh as possible, but the possibility exists nonetheless.

                        If you want to freeze fish to kill parasites, there are schedules you can find that list what temperature and how long. For example, if you have a commercial freezer that goes down to very low temperatures, you can get away with a shorter duration than you could with a home freezer.

                      2. Another example of Costco's Tuna