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Making sushi-grade salmon?

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maxman190 Jun 6, 2013 05:15 PM

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. C. Hamster RE: maxman190 Jun 6, 2013 05:25 PM

    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
      m
      maxman190 RE: C. Hamster Jun 6, 2013 05:57 PM

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

      1. re: maxman190
        chefj RE: maxman190 Jun 6, 2013 06:17 PM

        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. girloftheworld RE: maxman190 Jun 6, 2013 06:23 PM

      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
        MGZ RE: girloftheworld Jun 7, 2013 04:23 AM

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

        That was brilliant!

      2. m
        maxman190 RE: maxman190 Jun 6, 2013 06:28 PM

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

        4 Replies
        1. re: maxman190
          chefj RE: maxman190 Jun 6, 2013 06:33 PM

          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
            kaleokahu RE: maxman190 Jun 6, 2013 08:46 PM

            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.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. re: kaleokahu
              westsidegal RE: kaleokahu Jun 9, 2013 03:23 PM

              also,
              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
              j
              JudiAU RE: maxman190 Jun 7, 2013 08:31 PM

              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. soypower RE: maxman190 Jun 6, 2013 09:16 PM

              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
                d
                darrentran87 RE: soypower Jun 6, 2013 10:01 PM

                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. ipsedixit RE: maxman190 Jun 7, 2013 12:51 AM

                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
                  reedux RE: ipsedixit Jun 7, 2013 02:28 AM

                  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
                    MGZ RE: ipsedixit Jun 7, 2013 03:02 AM

                    "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
                      soypower RE: MGZ Jun 7, 2013 11:55 AM

                      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
                        ipsedixit RE: soypower Jun 7, 2013 07:00 PM

                        And who said marketing doesn't work?

                        1. re: soypower
                          j
                          JudiAU RE: soypower Jun 7, 2013 08:32 PM

                          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
                            sunshine842 RE: JudiAU Jun 8, 2013 05:24 AM

                            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
                              f
                              ferret RE: sunshine842 Jun 8, 2013 06:25 AM

                              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.

                            2. re: JudiAU
                              westsidegal RE: JudiAU Jun 9, 2013 03:26 PM

                              wild fish are full of them too

                              1. re: westsidegal
                                sunshine842 RE: westsidegal Jun 9, 2013 08:27 PM

                                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
                            kaleokahu RE: MGZ Jun 7, 2013 08:41 PM

                            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...

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu
                              MGZ RE: kaleokahu Jun 8, 2013 06:32 AM

                              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
                                kaleokahu RE: MGZ Jun 8, 2013 05:47 PM

                                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.

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                  MGZ RE: kaleokahu Jun 9, 2013 02:48 AM

                                  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
                                    MGZ RE: kaleokahu Jun 9, 2013 07:26 AM

                                    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
                                      kaleokahu RE: MGZ Jun 9, 2013 07:50 AM

                                      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.

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                        MGZ RE: kaleokahu Jun 9, 2013 09:00 AM

                                        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
                                          kaleokahu RE: MGZ Jun 9, 2013 10:59 AM

                                          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.

                                          Aloha,
                                          Kaleo

                                          1. re: kaleokahu
                                            MGZ RE: kaleokahu Jun 9, 2013 11:04 AM

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

                          3. sunshine842 RE: maxman190 Jun 7, 2013 03:54 AM

                            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. b
                              Bkeats RE: maxman190 Jun 7, 2013 04:50 AM

                              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. f
                                ferret RE: maxman190 Jun 7, 2013 10:10 AM

                                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. boogiebaby RE: maxman190 Jun 7, 2013 12:17 PM

                                  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
                                    b
                                    Bkeats RE: boogiebaby Jun 7, 2013 12:43 PM

                                    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
                                      boogiebaby RE: Bkeats Jun 7, 2013 05:48 PM

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

                                    2. re: boogiebaby
                                      hotoynoodle RE: boogiebaby Jun 9, 2013 06:03 AM

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

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                                        boogiebaby RE: hotoynoodle Jun 9, 2013 10:16 PM

                                        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
                                          hotoynoodle RE: boogiebaby Jun 10, 2013 06:02 AM

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

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

                                    3. p
                                      Puffin3 RE: maxman190 Jun 7, 2013 01:56 PM

                                      Go to a Sushi restaurant.

                                      1. Chemicalkinetics RE: maxman190 Jun 7, 2013 06:07 PM

                                        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
                                          p
                                          Puffin3 RE: Chemicalkinetics Jun 9, 2013 05:30 AM

                                          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
                                            JayL RE: Puffin3 Jun 9, 2013 07:10 AM

                                            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
                                              Chemicalkinetics RE: Puffin3 Jun 9, 2013 10:58 PM

                                              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
                                                p
                                                Puffin3 RE: Chemicalkinetics Jun 10, 2013 05:48 AM

                                                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
                                                  hotoynoodle RE: Chemicalkinetics Jun 10, 2013 06:06 AM

                                                  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.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: hotoynoodle Sep 1, 2013 08:40 PM

                                                    Thanks Puffin3 and hotoynoodle.

                                            2. g
                                              GlassBeach RE: maxman190 Sep 1, 2013 08:38 PM

                                              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
                                                chefj RE: GlassBeach Sep 2, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                "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.

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