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Making sushi-grade salmon?

I'm planning to buy some salmon that aren't sushi grade from the supermarket and it may be fresh, but I know it won't be spoiled or bad, that hasn't been frozen. I want to buy salmon that hasn't been frozen after being caught and then bringing it home, vacuum seal it and freezing it below -5F for a month or so. Will it be safe to eat it raw after thawing it out?

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  1. You want to take non sushi grade salmon that may not be the freshest to begin with and convert it to sushi grade by freezing it for a month?

    2 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      Well, not specifically a month, that's just when I think I would be craving for some salmon sashimi. But, yeah.

      1. re: maxman190

        You can not make fish that is not Sashimi grade into Sashimi grade by any method.
        Will it be safe to eat, most likely. Would I want to eat it, NO

    2. If you are a bear... it will taste fine.

      if you are a human you will be able to tell it is not Sushi grade.

      1 Reply
      1. re: girloftheworld

        "If you are a bear... it will taste fine."

        That was brilliant!

      2. Okay, then what about getting fresh whole salmon from the supermarket and then making that into sushi?

        4 Replies
        1. re: maxman190

          What is you obsession with getting low grade fish for Sashimi?
          If you want to eat crappy Sushi just do it, why ask others to condone it?

          1. re: maxman190

            Hi, maxman:

            The key is getting really fresh, high-grade fish, something most supermarkets don't have. Buying a whole fish can be cheaper, but it's prolly more fish than you can eat over several days--by which time it's neither fresh nor a bargain.

            Better to go to a reputable fishmonger, sniff the goods, and buy (at a premium if necessary) only what you need.


            1. re: kaleokahu

              to be safe, the fish should be flash frozen first, not just thrown into a regular freezer.

              quality still would be bad, but everyone has different ideas about what constitutes quality frozen fish.

            2. re: maxman190

              No. Farmed salmon from a conventional store should not be eaten raw. No way.

              For that matter, I am not interested in any eating farmed salmon ever.

            3. The only time I've heard of this being done is when you catch the fish yourself. Therefore, it's super fresh and you're just trying to kill any nasties by freezing them to death. I haven't heard of freezing it for more than a few hours though. I just can't imagine wanting to eat any of the commercially caught fish raw unless it's been treated as sushi grade.

              I don't like spending very much on sashimi either and I actually prefer to slice it myself so it can be super thin. There's a japanese grocery in my area that sells sashimi blocks in small portions. It's quite a savings from restaurant sashimi and it's still fresh and delicious.

              1 Reply
              1. re: soypower

                AFAIK there is no regulation on what is considered "sushi grade" besides it being frozen to a certain temperature -- something the OP was considering doing.

              2. The term "sushi-grade" has very little meaning, aside from a marketing term.

                You can take whatever salmon you buy and freeze it, and it'll be safe to eat, but it won't necessarily make it "sushi-grade".

                It'll just make it "previously-frozen grade".

                Yum. Eat up.

                18 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  you're better off curing the salmon and using that as your "sushi grade". unless you know exactly where your salmon comes from, I would advise against it. there's a higher risk of nasty buggers in fresh water fishes.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    "The term 'sushi-grade' has very little meaning, aside from a marketing term."

                    Yeah that one drives me nuts. Way I see it if a place is gonna sell you fish that you can't eat raw, why would you wanta eat it cooked? It's either fresh or it's not. There's no scale in my mind. "Here ma'am this salmon's only been sitting in the display for a week now, but I'm sure it's good enough if you cook it real long."

                    1. re: MGZ

                      I actually never knew this. I always thought sushi-grade fish was processed (cleaned, filleted) more expediently as well as being blast frozen on the boat it was caught on to maintain freshness and minimize the time available for bacteria growth.

                      Good to know. But I'll still probably use only the sashimi/sushi graded stuff.

                      1. re: soypower

                        And who said marketing doesn't work?

                        1. re: soypower

                          I think most people assume it has been checked for parasites and/or treated for parasites when marketed this way since farmed fish are filled iwth them.

                          1. re: JudiAU

                            reference, please?

                            Heavy metals, less flavor, etc., etc. -- but I've yet to see much about parasites.

                            Wild fish most assuredly have parasites...I've seen them and excised them -- so the eyebrow doesn't lift very far on this one.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Open net farming (basically large pens with no physical barrier to the large bodies of water in which they are used) provide for transfer of waste out and anything existing in those large bodies of water in, including parasites.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                that's what I meant -- wild-caught fish (as in, fish I've caught/speared myself) have parasites and that doesn't keep from eating them (you just cut out the parasites and then cook the fish)

                                and although I wasn't clear on that point, I did mean farming as in tanks/ponds, rather than restricted open water. I have no doubt that those raised in pens would have parasites -- if their wild brethren on the other side of the net have parasites, it's pretty logical that the farmed ones "on the inside" would, too.

                          2. re: MGZ

                            Hi, MGZ & Ipse: "The term 'sushi-grade' has very little meaning, aside from a marketing term."

                            Not so fast. I eat a lot of ahi, which is graded on a multi-level scale. The top 4 grades cannot be differentiated from the next few lower grades when *cooked*. But used in sushi there is a discernible difference.

                            There is also the matter of different salmon runs...


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Kaleo, not all of us have the pleasure of livin' in the paradise of the 50th State. Perhaps, those gradings are related to the Japanese system? Here where the latitude and longitude are in the 40's and 70's, "sushi grade" on a fish counter is roughly the same as "trust me, I know a guy...."

                              1. re: MGZ

                                Hi, MGZ:

                                Actually, I live in the 42nd State. But you have a valid point insofar as non-fishing area supermarket fish counters go.

                                However, most major cities in the US these days have at least a handful of serious sushi restaurants, and a fish market or two to supply them. These markets routinely fly in very high quality fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Several years ago in Honolulu, I was lucky enough to have prepared for me very fresh Antarctic shrimp along with locally-caught selections. Even the logistical tail required to harvest shrimp in the Great Southern Ocean and deliver them fresh to the most remote archipelago in the world is workable--for a price.

                                Perhaps unfortunately, what premium fish is available in any given (non-fishing) location almost always depends on a concentration of other people's wealth to justify air freight. And with globalization, even fishing areas can see the best of their local catches go to the highest global bidder.


                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Actually, I live less than a half mile from the Atlantic. I have friends with boats and love to fish. In fact, we had sea bass last night that my buddy came over and cooked. I have a local fishmonger that I know and trust. Sometimes, I just tell the guys how many people I'm feeding and take what they give me.

                                  I'm good with fish, but around here, and in many places, grades for fish is meaningless.

                                  Oh and I gotta find Antarctic shrimp now. Thanks

                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    Oh, and by the way, thanks for makin' me have to look up what the 42nd State is. Can you send me a bag? The Third State doesn't even let me buy Bloody Marys at this time on a Sunday. And, trust me I NEED one.

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      Yes, much progress has been made here in the aptly-named Evergreen State. But alas, our uncle Samuel--Philistine that he is--takes a dim view of even small gifts.


                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        Hat's off, Brother. Mrs. Z wants to head out there for our next vacation. I'm good with it, but we're gonna have to arm wrestle that I wanna make a long, cross country learning drive outta it a nd she's more of a "fly over" girl.

                                        When we do it, you're the first Alpha I'm gonna hit up for Chow advice, I assure you.

                                        I'm so into the idea. I've read "Blue Highways" three times. "Travel with Charley" the same. I really want to just post on every board and ask for a trip plan from all these brilliant, fellow food geeks based only on the eats. I mean, I'm good if I have to go to outta my way through OK on my route to Seattle. It's all about keepin' my fat belly happy.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          Hi, MGZ:

                                          Well, whether you drive or fly, make sure you have a car to get around to see things. Flying over and parking yourselves in DT Seattle is good for food, but you'd be shortchanging yourselves by not seeing some further-off sights.

                                          Re: posting on every board, you might have no choice. The Mods are sometimes really strict about posting about trips that do not neatly fit into their sometimes strange geographical limits.

                                          IMO, there's noting like a good, long roadtrip. Rent her "Borat" and "Lost in America". She should be putty in your driving-gloved hands.


                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                            We'll drive, as soon as I figure out all the five calendar cafes along the way, wherever they may be.

                          3. There's also the rather significant issue of the freezing itself..

                            Commercial freezers freeze with a blast of liquid nitrogen - the fish freezes rock-hard, immediately, with very little tissue damage.

                            A home freezer takes a long time to freeze something by comparison, and that slow process allows the water in the flesh to expand, tearing cell walls and destroying the texture of the flesh.

                            1. If you've bought sushi in a grocery store and thought it was fine, go ahead and do it. Get the thick inner filet piece. I would trim off all the exterior of the piece of salmon as that will probably not be in great shape. Cut into rectangular blocks and freeze them individually. The quality won't be great but if that's what you're used to go for it. Personally, I would spring for higher quality fish. Check out catalinaop.com

                              Some people might say that bad sushi is better than no sushi. Not my view, but some would call me a sushi snob

                              This reminds me of the commercial that shows the guy buying sushi in a gas station.

                              1. Read the book "Birdseye" by Mark Kurlansky. You, as a consumer with a residential refrigerator/freezer, couldn't hope to maintain the cellular structure/texture of a fresh fish by popping it into a home freezer.

                                1. You can't make sushi-grade salmon. That refers to freshly caught fish, that's been flash frozen to maintain freshness and to kill certain types of bacteria (at least's what I've read).

                                  You can't just buy regular salmon at a supermarket and do something to it to make it sushi-grade.

                                  If you have a good Asian market nearby, they should carry sushi-grade fish in their seafood department. More expensive that the "normal" fish, but cheaper than a sushi restaurant, and you can slice, flavor and garnish to your heart's content.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: boogiebaby

                                    Sushi isn't just about fresh fish. Depending on the type of fish, it may be aged. Similar concept as aging beef. Develops a different flavor and texture.

                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                      I understand that. But the OP was specifically speaking about salmon sushi. Salmon used for sushi is typically not aged.

                                    2. re: boogiebaby

                                      much supermarket fish has been previously frozen, so re-freezing and thawing will turn the stuff into mush.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        Did you mean to reply to me? I never suggested the OP refreeze supermarket fish. On the contrary, I suggested they go buy sushi grade fish from an Asian market. I never said anything about freezing it.

                                        1. re: boogiebaby

                                          i wasn't contradicting, just offering the op more info.

                                          i agree with everybody else that supermarket salmon is mostly krap.

                                    3. Go to a Sushi restaurant.

                                      1. Getting sushi quality fish (or scouting one) is an art form. Just because you get a fresh salmon, it does not mean it is a great salmon for sushi.

                                        Don't get me wrong. You can make sushi at home. All I am saying is that you cannot simply "turn" any salmon into high quality sushi quality salmon.

                                        Think of it the other way around, if all you need to do is to freeze a fresh salmon, then won't everyone able to get sushi quality salmon? Then why do sushi chefs scout for high quality salmon in fish market?

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Sushi grade salmon fillets are generally 'lamp tested' for large parasites. The fresh unfrozen fillets, skin removed are put on a lamp table with a strong cool lamp underneath. Parasites can be seen in the flesh and removed with a special tool like one of those sharp circular punches used in leatherwork. A parasite appears as a 'dark object'. Then the fillets are shipped to Sushi restaurants. The Sushi chef works around the little circular holes. This process does not detect smaller parasites however. Anytime you see a tiny white ball the size of a small grain of sand on a piece of Sushi you are looking at a baby parasite. When you see a salmon fillet with the skin still on it has not been 'lamp-tested'. Farm salmon are not served as Sushi at the best Sushi restaurants b/c the texture/taste can not replace wild salmon.
                                          Only once a year during the wild salmon commercial fishing season are truly fresh wild salmon available and about 100% of the catch on the West coast of N.W. Us and Canada is 'pre-purchased' by the Japanese fish buyers. The Japanese now basically own all the fish processing plants and the packers and ice plants and well you name it. If you order salmon sushi in February in Dallas you'll be getting farm salmon and it may or may not have been 'lamp-tested' and it will be likely flash frozen maybe months ago.

                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                            In the two states that I am familiar with you are not allowed to serve raw fish that has not been frozen do destroy parasites.

                                            One of those states will allow fresh tuna and farm raised salmon that meet certain criteria.

                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                              Very interesting. Are you saying that salmons are not frozen like most other fishes -- as a precondition to serve in sushi restaurants? Or are you saying that the lamp test is on top of the flash freezing?

                                              <100% of the catch on the West coast of N.W. Us and Canada is 'pre-purchased' by the Japanese fish buyers. >

                                              I can believe that.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                Wild salmon that are headed to Japan 'Springs/Kings'. They are all caught using trolling gear. No gill nets. The fishermen who use this type of method already know how critical it is to maintain the quality of the fish. The fish are immediately cleaned/gilled and iced down.
                                                When the boat has enough to call over the buyer or if close enough run to a packing plant the fish are off-loaded and re-iced and carefully inspected then off to the nearest airport to be re-loaded onto a jet headed to Japan. All this can happen in half a day. When these premium fish are landed they go immediately to the fish auction then. When the fish gets to it's final destination they are filleted to remove the skin and then 'lamp-tested'. I'm only referring to the wild No 1 premium grade Spring/Kings. The packing plants who process the 'lesser' grade fish of all salmon species flash-freeze and do all sorts of things to them to get them to the fish store in Dallas etc.
                                                The odds of getting to taste one of the premium fish anywhere but in the best AKA most expensive sushi restaurants in Japan are pretty slim IMO. Virtually all the salmon used in sushi you find in your local grocery store deli section is farm raised or gill netted from Norway etc. flash frozen. Wild troll caught Spring/King salmon fresh never frozen used in the finest Japanese sushi restaurants= Ferraris. All the rest Chevys.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  puffin did say "about" 100%. while they're running in-season, there are east coast chefs who source the stuff too. it's very spendy, but it gets here.

                                            2. No no no! You WANT frozen salmon. Here, the fish is caught on our lines, it is bled right away, and put on slush ice. At shop, it is dipped in a protective solution and then flash frozen. The film of good stuff ensures your sashimi grade fish. What you want to know before buying is when and how it was frozen.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: GlassBeach

                                                "I'm planning to buy some salmon that aren't sushi grade from the supermarket"
                                                From here there is no way to get to Sashimi Quality Fish.

                                              2. None of you people know what you are talking about. I was a general manager of a prominent Korean/Japanese restaurant, and worked closely with master Itamae of Sushi. There is NO SUCH A THING as a sushi-grade salmon. Also, fresh caught salmon will not make the best nigiri or sashimi until some time has passed. Some wild caught salmon needs to be frozen first for up to 7 days to kill some parasites. Alaskan Sockeye are an exception to this rule, but other kings, cohos, landlocked etc. all need freezing. American novices think all sushi needs to be fresh. This is absolutely NOT TRUE. So, stop pretending to know, and use what little knowledge you have to be pretentious. I grew up on nigiri, in a town by the sea in far east. I know what I am talking about. Depending on fish, some needs to be aged, meaning, master itamaes will actually allow a degree of spoil to take place to draw out flavor. Unless you have been cutting sashimi professionally for 10+ years, do not pretend to know.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: FryChef

                                                  On a recent AB show from Japan he visited a man who is supposed to be one of the best sushi chefs on the planet.
                                                  He concurred with all you say Fry Chef.

                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                    So you think that was the episode Fry Chef watched before posting the rant? Probably more likely than his having read all of the same assertions in posts here over the years - or, for that matter, even the ones in this thread.

                                                    The truth is, I too have a severe ignorance allergy. Nevertheless, I think it wise to try and avoid making a scene if the host unwittingly places a scoop on the dish before me, you know? I'm not sure if condoning such "look at me" spectacles is wise, especially when what's being articulated isn't exactly new to the boards.

                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      you are far more polite in this response than i could have been. thanks. :)

                                                  2. re: FryChef

                                                    nothing like climbing up the high dive and doing a cannon ball for your first post huh fry chef ?

                                                  3. For Fresh Alaskan Salmon, depending on what is being caught. Go to Peninsula Processors, they ship overnight. Kalgin Island King, White King, Sockeye, Red Sockeye, etc.. Gutted, whole fish, Filets, Traditional smoked, etc. I have been buying from them for 2 years, nothing but the best Salmon and excellent service.


                                                    1. Ohkay. See, the boy salmon and the girl salmon, they have a very special compulsion and swim into a river from the sea. It's a very hard journey and they struggle. Then they come to a magical place in the river, and love happens, all over the place. Then they die. But the beautiful baby salmon born in the magical place, from the love, swim back to the ocean and some of them become sashimi grade. We don't know how that happens exactly, but it's true, some of them do.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Teague

                                                        calling your kid a special snowflake doesn't make it so...