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I'm planning a sushi dinner party for my birthday in a month and I'm trying to do research on where to get my ingredients and supplies.

I'm finding that trying to find "sushi grade" fish is the hardest thing to do, and the only place that I can find anything where the person working the deli knows what they are doing is at Whole Foods. But their price for their salmon and tuna is really high.

In doing research to see what sushi grade really means (and searching here on Seasoned Advice) is that it just needs to be Frozen at -20° C (-4° F) for 7 days.

I found this pre-sliced, pre-packaged smoked salmon at my local grocery store: http://www.vitafoodproducts.com/p-315-vita-wild-nova-salmon.aspx

I asked the guy at the deli and he didn't know if it would be considered sushi grade or not. But from what I'm reading, I don't see why I couldn't just freeze the fish in my own freezer for a week or so before my event.

Is this not the case? Should I invest the money on getting already-confirmed sushi grade fish?

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Most home freezers don't reach -20 celsius even at the lowest setting. And whatever your freezer is graded at, the temperature in it won't be uniform. So, unless you have some kind of commercial-grade freezer, it probably won't work. Still, you can check your freezer manual and/or use a thermometer to see if you can reach the temperatures needed. –  rumtscho Jul 10 '13 at 9:38
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By the way, everybody I know considers the kind of smoked salmon found in the cured meat isle to be ready for consumption without further cooking. I have had it in restaurants too, so it must be OK according to local food safety legislation. If you are OK with smoked (as opposed to raw) salmon in your sushi, this will probably work. –  rumtscho Jul 10 '13 at 9:41
    
possible duplicate of Can store bought salmon be used for sashimi? –  Ward Jul 10 '13 at 18:09
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4 Answers

I have done several sushi dinners at home: a lot of fun and also a giant saving! One thing that you need to consider is the amount of fish, sushi recipes call for small amounts and so, even if you are preparing straight sashimi, I found that as 'little' as two pound of fish will 'force feed' a team of 6-8 hungry adults. Wish sushi grade fish you obviously don't want to do it wrong and get sick, so I suggest you stay away from home sanitized cuts. The problem is not only the extended frozen period, but also the way the fish has been handled from the moment it's caught. After searching and talking to the best restaurants in San Diego, I found that http://www.catalinaop.com is one of the best suppliers available. I was lucky enough to be able to swing by their warehouse and avoid the shipping cost, but they offer next day delivery at a reasonable price. The quality and variety is outstanding and they are specialists that will answer every single question! Make it special! :)

Hope it helps :)

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Also to piggy back on this answer, "sushi grade" is a marketing term and even though something may have been frozen, the real determining factor is the initial health and quality of the fish and how it was handled before it was frozen and reaches your door. –  Brendan Jul 10 '13 at 5:07
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Smoked salmon is (more or less) a cooked product, so if you're fine with the smoked taste, it's fine for sushi without any further additions. Anything you would eat without further preparation can be used in sushi without problem: raw vegetables (assuming you're someplace with trustworthy vegetable handling practices), smoked salmon or lox (usually eaten without further preparation on bagels), canned tuna, cream cheese, et cetera. I have used the same type of product from my local supermarket when making sushi and it turned out tasty :)

Raw fish from the supermarket is another matter. I personally wouldn't trust random raw fish, since it's intended to be cooked and thus not necessarily safe to eat raw.

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I concur with mekdigital that you should not use self-sanitized fish (please!). People in Japan even rarely make their own sushi with raw fish by themselves at home. The belief that is that only a sushi chef has the experience, skills, and knowledge to accurately select appropriate fish to be used for raw sushi dishes. Factors include the source of the fish as well as its health based on visual/olfactory/tactile inspection. After a fish is approved, it must then be handled, stored, transported and filleted according to strict standards of safety, hygiene and cleanliness. The fish must even be filleted a certain way.

All these standards were implemented to ensure that the fish was safe to eat. I doubt that Whole Foods or their distributor goes quite the same length as sushi chefs in Japan do to pronounce a fish "sushi grade" but I'm sure it is safer to use their fish than buying some raw fish in a grocery store that has not been inspected/handled/stored for use in raw dishes. Better safe than sorry!

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Raw fish is frozen before sushi/sashimi preparation in order to kill parasites. The thoroughness of this process is related to the same factors as actually cooking the fish - that is to say, time and temperature. That's why you only need 15 hours if you can get the temperature as low as -35° C.

Freezing the fish at 0° C or slightly below, which is exactly the temperature that most home freezers are, will do precisely nothing to guarantee food safety. It will keep the fish safe for cooking, but will not in and of itself kill any nasties. It is not a reliable or even semi-reliable way of preparing fish to be eaten raw. It is not safe to eat raw fish that's been sitting in a home freezer.

But don't get too upset about this, because you're talking about smoked salmon, and smoked salmon is not raw. It is cured, like a salami. That means it's safe to eat without any additional cooking, and that means you do not need to freeze it at all (except to keep it fresh if you're buying it well in advance).

So go ahead and make your sushi with smoked salmon bought from the grocery store. Just don't try that strategy on actual, raw fish.

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