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Is there something you can look for? Am I left to the seller's word and my own discernment?

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"Crudo"? You mean raw fish like sashimi? –  Lorenzo Jul 9 '10 at 21:53
    
Sort of - crudo is uncooked but often seasoned with oil and spices and usually "cooked" with the addition of vinegar and/or citrus juice (lemon/lime). –  Ryan Elkins Jul 9 '10 at 22:04
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

General food safety guidelines give you four hours of time between 40F and 140F; more than that, and unsavory bacteria exceed nominally safe limits.

So, there's your safety limit. Total time counts, that is, in a bag back from the grocer for 2 hours, then in the fridge and back down to 34F and then out for 1 hour on the counter = 1 hour left until it needs to go over 140 for ten minutes (or 165 for 1 minute) or into your mouth.

And of course, there's the amount of time it was left on the dock, etc. etc.

That said, if you left fish in the fridge for a week, it would be mushy and bad tasting raw -- so you also must use your tastebuds and nose to see if you want to eat it raw; food safety isn't the only concern.

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Update: in the US, FDA requires freezing for a short period (depending on temperature) to kill parasites in order to receive a 'sushi grade' designation. This would probably be a good idea if you're extra concerned about being safe. –  Peter V Jul 20 '10 at 19:56
    
It never hurts to bring a cooler with a couple ice packs to the grocery/fish monger. Especially if you live a decent distance away. –  draksia Apr 9 at 13:04
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Well, your discernment is indeed what you are looking for. You want really fresh fish. The usual advice for detecting really fresh fish apply. It can't hurt to have a fish source that you have good reason to trust.

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