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How does one go about purchasing sushi-grade fish without breaking the bank? I know that sushi chefs & restaurants usually buy in bulk. Is there any way to do this individually in a way that is at all economically feasible?

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Sushi does not require fish, sushi is the style of rice preparation (rice, salt, a little rice vinegar, occasionally some kombu). So long as you have the correct preparation of rice, you technically have some form of sushi (you could just throw it in a bowl with some additions on top and have a type of sushi called chirashizushi).

Second, there is no such thing as sushi grade fish - sushi grade literally means the fish has been frozen for over 24 hours to kill any parasites present. Otherwise, just about any clean fish can be used (as always, fresher is better).

As for sushi making, you can use any number of ingredients to make it, you don't specifically need fish. In fact, if you are trying to throw a sushi party or are just hungry for some rolls, this may be a better way to go since you can use what is on hand. Here are some ideas:

  • Canned eel
  • a fried egg
  • a filet of salmon (again, freeze it for 24 hours and then thaw)
  • Carrot
  • sweet potato
  • cucumber
  • avocado
  • imitation crab or crab
  • shrimp
  • tilapia
  • lox
  • cream cheese
  • squid

When you make it yourself you open up to lots of possibilities and chances to experiment. Since you are looking to do this on an individual level, play around a bit. If you have your heart set on using fish, talk to a good seafood counter and get small portions of fish. If it is 100% fresh, kill clean and store for 24-36 hours in a freezer, then thaw and use. Don't buy in to "sushi grade" fish because it is pure marketing.

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Although talk to your fish counter ... I was on a trip w/ a co-worker, and he asked about fish for sushi, and being a Sunday, they said all of the fish was a day or more old, and couldn't recommend it for eating raw, even with a 24hr freeze. (and for tamago (egg), I typically do a sweetened omelette rather than a fried egg) – Joe Feb 26 '13 at 13:48
Good call on the sweetened omelette, I'll have to give it a shot! – Matthew Jun 27 '13 at 17:45

Most seafood counters will sell you small vacuum sealed portions of frozen fish.

The fish is often frozen on the ship where it is caught and so will be fresher than even if you bought it at the dock.

The freezing will also kill any parasites and is the only prerequisite for the label "sushi grade". See this question: What exactly is "Sushi Grade" fish?

I buy half pound portions of salmon or tuna. You don't get a discount for buying them in bulk but such a small portion will only cost me $3-$5. A half pound of fish will make a lot of sushi.

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I would go to a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant. Most of these restaurants offer sushi plates range from $1.00 to $3.00. It will cost you less than buying a sushi-grade fish and trying to make sushi yourself only to end up in disaster.

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If only this were true. I'd eat a lot more sushi. – Sobachatina Mar 2 '13 at 19:52

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