When it comes to making high-quality sushi, finding fresh fish and keeping it fresh is an extremely important step. Making sure that the fish does not have parasites is another very important part of producing sushi - as most sushi or sashimi has to do with raw seafood ingredients. Here are some tips on how to find the best fish for sushi and how to store it safely and keep it fresh to maintain flavor as well as texture.
- Shop for live fish
There are certain grocery stores and meat markets that keep live fish in an aquarium for customers to buy. So, if you pick out a live fish to take home, you know exactly how fresh it is. However, it’s always a good idea to check the skin for blemishes, which may be a sign of disease.
- Purchase fish in season
The most secure way to find fresh fish is to look for fish that is in season. Each species of fish is different and may have a specific harvesting season.
- Be aware of how the fish is stored
Opt for fish that is on fresh ice, not on ice that is already melting. Also, it should be in an enclosed case or under a cover.
- Always smell the fish
The weirder a fish smells, the more likely it is not a fresh fish you are looking at.
- Check out the eyes
When it comes to most fish, the eyes should be clear and bulging - as this is an actual evidence of freshness. There are just a few fish, such as the walleye pike, that normally have cloudy eyes.
- Feel the flesh
The flesh of the fish should be firm and shiny. It should also spring back when pressed. However, in case the flesh is firm but not shiny, the fish was most likely frozen at some point. In case the flesh is mushy though, the fish is definitely not fresh enough for sushi.
- Examine the gills and blood
Gills should be red in color and should not show any traces of slime or goo, because these can be signs of disease or rotten flesh. Any blood around or near the gills should be dark red in color. In case you see the blood being pinkish rather than red, it means the fish has possibly been sitting in ice for way too long.
- Check the color
Stay away from seafood with green or yellow coloring or darkening on the flesh, unless it is naturally yellow in color like the sea urchin. Also be careful with fish that is extremely bright red. Some fish are treated with carbon monoxide that will give the fish an abnormal red color that makes old fish look fresher. You could also try to find out whether the fish was treated with carbon monoxide, just to be surer.
- Take a look at the label on shellfish
When buying shellfish, check the label to make sure it is up to code. All shellfish sold in the United States should have a label that proves that it meets FDA recommendations.
- Avoid broken shells
Don’t buy shellfish with cracked or broken shells. Once the shell is penetrated, the meat of the shellfish starts to rot really quickly.
- Select thick fillets
In case you think of buying your fish with the scales pre-removed, it is best to buy a thick fillet rather than a steak. You’ll find that the fillets are easier to cut, and the thickness ensures that you have enough to work with when making your sushi.
When you’re done with your seafood purchase, it’s important to know how to store it. So check out few tips for storing your seafood:
- Make sure to keep seafood in the refrigerator to reduce the risk of getting parasites from eating it raw. Use it within two days after purchase.
- In case you don’t use the fish within two days, wrap it in water-proof bags and store it in the freezer. It can still be used for sushi, however it won’t have the perfect texture.
- When you want to thaw frozen seafood, just place it in the refrigerator overnight, or microwave on your "thaw" setting until the fish is soft enough to cut. It should still be icy cold though.
Do you have other tips on how to by sushi fish? Share with us in the comments below.