I have read various recipes for making shime saba, the pickled mackerel commonly found in sushi restaurants. All of these recipes require starting with a fresh caught fish and recommend keeping for at most 2 days refrigerated.

This sounds potentially difficult to do for restaurants. Is there an alternative method for doing this (whether under home or commercial conditions)? Is it possible to extend the shelf life, or can no more than 2 days pass from catching to eating for it to conform to safety rules?

  • This isn't an answer, just a bit of interest and photos for people and how to make your own - thus only a comment. Good question. Link: food-in-japan.com/2014/04/… – dougal 5.0.0 Apr 11 '17 at 5:20
  • Hello Drisheen, the question is OK from food safety perspective. We cannot tell you what restaurants do, though. I have edited the question to remove the restaurants out of the equation. – rumtscho Apr 11 '17 at 7:41
  • If there is somebody working for or owning a sushi restaurant here (not me) and willing and allowed to answer it - why can it not be told? – rackandboneman Apr 11 '17 at 7:55
  • @rackandboneman an answer about how one restaurant does it is not an answer to the question "how do restaurants do it in general". We do not do poll question in the sense of "let's have several restaurant owners tell us how they do it in their restaurant only". So one owner telling would not be considered an answer. An answer to the original question would need somebody to make a representative study of the practice among a relevant population of restaurants (world-wide?) and a user knowing of this study would have to summarize it here. Which in my opinion is not contained in our scope. – rumtscho Apr 11 '17 at 11:54
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    @DrisheenColcannon it is not about me not knowing it, it is about "the usual practices in sushi restaurants" being off topic on the site. The original question would have to have been closed, that's why I changed the meaning. – rumtscho Apr 11 '17 at 12:19

I did some more additional research on this question and what I found out was that in the US all raw seafood is frozen due to FDA recommendations. The FDA rules are only recommendations, but the restaurants nearly all follow them, because of legal liability. In other words, if somebody got sick and the restaurant did not follow FDA "recommendations" it could open them up to a law suit.

There are two basic types of freezing. In high-end restaurants they use nitrogen flash-freezing, although this style is becoming more common even among common purveyors. In lower end restaurants or supermarkets, the fish is frozen with dry ice down to -5 F or below and kept that way for at least a week. This will kill parasites such as anasikiasis.

Once the fish is deep frozen and sealed from sublimation, it will last essentially forever, so the sushi you are eating in a restaurant might actually be months or even years old. To thaw it, it is soaked in water. Once it is thawed, it has to be prepared immediately.

In Japan freezing is less common and the most high-end restaurants serve fresh fish. This does result in a significant number of cases of parasite problems in humans.

  • Let's not have a meta discission in/on an answer on main. I think we can come up with an edited version of the question that everyone is happy with, and if we need much discussion, let's use chat or meta. – Cascabel Apr 11 '17 at 14:15

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