What it is, and why does it matter?
In simple terms it means that the fish is the freshest and safest fish the place you’re buying it from has to offer for raw consumption. The thing to be careful of is that there is no official standard for the use of this label. In this post I will go over a few things that will hopefully help clear the air for you on the topic, and make you feel more comfortable purchasing and preparing.
The Process of Handling
Catching the Fish
Ideally when the fish is caught whether it be tuna, or say salmon they flash freeze it on the boat. From there it should stay frozen for up to seven days to kill any parasites that may be living in the meat. This practice is good because it also protects the freshness, and texture of the meat from being damaged by rigor mortis.
Buying the Fish
When buying the fish there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Go to the right places. If you have a local fish market in your area then that is probably the best place go. If not then more than likely you are going to your local grocery store. There they will most likely have a seafood department.
Ask questions. If you are going to eat something raw you should never be afraid to ask someone a question, or two.
- Where is it from?
- How long has it been unfrozen?
- What is the kill date?
- How long has it been in the case?
Use your senses. Fresh fish should have a vibrant color to it. It should be stiff not mushy. If it smells like anything other than the ocean it’s probably best to skip it. If you ever have ANY doubt it is probably best to skip.
Handling the fish
Once you buy the fish you have a couple of options. If it is frozen, and you want to keep it that way your goal is to make sure it doesn’t defrost before you get it to its next destination. Depending on how far you have to go it is not a bad idea to bring a cooler with a couple bags of ice. Especially if you are buying the fish unfrozen. When I put my fish in my freezer I like to wrap it tight in plastic wrap and put it in a good freezer bag. Soon I will be switching over to a vacuum sealer to get an even better seal.
Once you are ready to use the fish it is best to let it defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours. After that once you take it out, and start to make sushi it is good for about another 24 hours as long as it is refrigerated at one point.
My last piece of advice is to be adventurous. Research asian markets, grocery stores, even big fish markets that might be an hour or two away. Look up different fish to use, and how to prepare them. Sushi is so much more than tuna, salmon, and crab stick.