Since most sushi or sashimi includes raw seafood ingredients, it is essential to know how to select the correct fish, and how to keep it fresh. Proper food-safety precautions are the key to creating good sushi, as this will minimise the risk of foodborne illnesses associated with eating raw fish.
Raw fish is not something to be afraid of. Virtually every fish or sea creature is edible, it’s just that not every fish can be eaten raw. Knowing which sources are safe is the best place to start when choosing your sushi ingredients.
Fish safe to eat raw
Tuna: Any sort of tuna, be it bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack, or albacore, can be eaten raw. It is one of the oldest ingredients used in sushi and is regarded by some as the icon of sushi and sashimi.
Salmon: Salmon is one of the most popular ingredients used in sushi and sashimi, but to ensure it is safe, it should be previously frozen, or farmed appropriately.
Surf clams (akagai): Surf clams have a mild ocean aroma and a soft, chewy flesh. Clams are often presented in a beautiful flower pattern, where the white base flows into the red tips.
Yellowtail (hamachi): A type of jack fish, yellowtail is a favourite of the finest Japanese restaurants.
Halibut or Flounder (hirame): Halibut is very delicate in taste and is often one of the first dishes to be consumed.
Other fish that are commonly used include: squid, gizzard shad (kohada), mackerel, sea bass, porgies, and snapper. However, these typically need to be treated before being eaten raw.
As a general rule, it’s worth noting that fish farmed in the USA, Norway, Britain, New Zealand, Canada or Japan should be safe to eat. These countries have strict standards in regards to cleanliness and are typically free from parasites.
Eating raw fresh fish is all about timing. If you buy fresh fish, use it that day. Don’t stock up a day in advance, and always consume within two days. If the fish has cloudy eyes or feels mushy to touch, it’s best to avoid it.