Salmon: From Cooked to Raw
For the longest time, salmon has never made an appearance in sushi bars in Japan. The Japanese do not eat raw salmon. The fish is known as a carrier of parasites especially at the end of their lives when they have become weakened, furiously expending their energy swimming upstream to lay their eggs in home waters. It was too risky to serve salmon raw. Some sushi chefs in California tried curing the fish to kill possible parasites but it destroyed the delicate taste and texture of the salmon.
Back in the 80s, a Scandinavian country had a huge salmon problem. Norway had too much salmon, tons of the fish were filling up industrial freezers already. The government was desperate to sell it to the one country half-way around the world that eats raw fish – Japan. Japan didn’t want it even though Norwegian salmon is parasite-free. But Japan’s long sushi history does not involve eating raw salmon. It took some time to convince the Japanese.
When one company agreed to buy its first 5,000 tons of Norwegian frozen salmon for cheap, it slowly made headway in the country. Salmon sushi was just buttery; the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, very soft meat was simply irresistible.
Thanks to the improvement of freezing technology, raw salmon in Japan is now safer to eat. Freezing kills the parasites inside and the fish is thawed before being served raw. Food poisoning by consuming raw salmon in Japan is very rare. The knowledge and techniques of Japan’s fishing industry makes the consumption of raw salmon safe for most consumers. The Japanese official recommendation for “fresh” (intended to be eaten untreated by heat) salmon is: “Freeze at -20C/-4F for at least 24 hours.” However, just for the record, most of salmon eaten raw in Japan is imported from Norway, more fatty and affordable.
Hence, this was how salmon, once off-limits as sushi, became the most popular nigiri in Japan now.
I Love Salmon at I Love Sushi in Seattle
Love our salmon nigiri and salmon sashimi at I Love Sushi. Come experience your salmon and other sushi delights in our Seattle restaurant on Lake Union and wonder what we’ll be missing if we’ve never tried raw salmon.
Fish List that Makes the Grade for Best Sushi
We’ve come up with a list of the best sushi fish that you’d say is consistent across the board. Ranked on flavor, price and even on what to expect on taste, so that first-timers can know. Here are the most common sushi fish you can find at many sushi restaurants.
At the tail-end of the top choices is the Albacore. It has a slightly brownish top and fishy in flavor, so it is usually paired with ponzu sauce and onions. It’s a small tuna, sometimes called the long-fin tuna. It has a soft, buttery and flaky flesh throughout the body, milder in taste compared to regular tuna. Chefs quickly grill the whole fillet just enough to cook the surface and immediately immerse it into ice water to tighten the flesh. It becomes more concentrated in flavor and becomes suitable for sushi.
Salmon’s very smooth and non-fishy taste endears it to many, not to mention its distinct orange coloring with white stripes. It’s very commonly used in nigiri sushi as well as rolls and other types of sushi meals. Its mild flavor gives it flexibility to used in varied ways. The salmon was always cooked in Japan until recently and was one of the fishes that tore, or “flaked” easily when cooked. Thus the word sake (meaning tear) took its place. Salmon now should be flash-frozen before it is eaten raw.
Tuna (maguro) is the most commonly consumed sushi fish. The red flesh has a metallic fishy taste and it can also have a deeper fishy taste. It can be stored for long periods of time and not loose its pink coloring. White Tuna (or escolar) is very delicious and creamy. But it’s not advisable to binge on this buttery, delicious fish as it can act as a laxative. The escolar’s diet contains food high in wax esters which the fish find hard to digest.
Fatty Tuna is the king of all sushi, it is often the most expensive on the menu. The pinkest is the fattiest and most expensive, usually called O-Toro, and the slightly pink is the second fattiest grade of tuna called Chu-Toro. Both are succulent and are prime cuts from the Blue Fin tuna. Yellow Tail is usually a very pale, and sometimes pink fish with a very mild, delicate, and creamy texture. Its flavor is not as strong as the fatty tuna but rivals it in taste, though not as expensive. The yellow tails is also called Hamachi.
Best Sushi Choices in Seattle
Do you already love sushi? Try all and have a blast at I Love Sushi in Seattle. This is your go-to place for all things sushi.