Sushi Grade Fish: The Complete UK Guide

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The Reality of Sushi Grade Fish: Safety Concerns and Tips

sushi grade fish

Eating raw fish is a popular form of cuisine in many parts of the world, and the UK isn’t an exception. We love to get our hands on expensive, delicious sushi/sashimi to saturate our taste buds with the beautiful flavours that are ever so delicious.

Don’t get us wrong. Some people do have concerns about raw fish consumption, especially if they’re planning to prepare it at home. And rightly so! Eating uncooked fish comes with the potential dangers of mishandled produce and contamination concerns that encapsulate the fish market.

These concerns push several people to entrust credible restaurant owners that can safely manage their sushi night-outs with their friends or family.

But why does preparing your sushi recipes at home feel like a horrendous task to many chefs? And why do we trust restaurant owners instead of our own abilities?

This article will take you through a learning journey to help you understand the difference between regular and sushi-grade fish UK while clearing out many safety concerns.

Keep reading to find out more.

What is Sushi Grade Fish?

salmon sashimi

The term “sushi-grade fish” is ambiguous, with no clear guidelines over what classifies under this category.

In general, it refers to any form of fish that is safe for humans to consume in a raw/uncooked form.

The only guideline about sushi-grade fish comes from the Food Development Authority (FDA). It requires you to freeze the fish at low temperatures for a set amount of time to kill all the harmful parasites that can cause food poisoning, distress, and more.

  • 20 degrees Celsius for seven days
  • 35 degrees Celsius for 15 hours

Unlike the regulations over frozen or fresh meat delivery and quality, the fish market is free of such restrictions, making any fish vendor’s claim as good as their intention. This irregularity is the primary reason why people are always on the lookout for sushi restaurants that have a trusted reputation and good reviews.

Additionally, sushi vendors have a custom set of tailored guidelines to make the raw fish as safe to eat as possible due to this irregularity. And by labelling it “sushi-grade,” they aim to convince their buyers that the product is free of parasites and can be consumed with total peace of mind.

It is also important to remember that fish meant to be consumed raw needs to be taken extra care of throughout processing.

Professional fishmongers store their produce in cold containers as soon as they’re caught to maintain the highest flesh quality. Fish are also often gutted, beheaded, and drained of blood on the spot to prevent the parasites from seeping into the flesh.

What's the difference between normal fish and sushi-grade fish?

Not every sea creature is edible, and even less which you can consume in an uncooked, raw form without consequences. Hence, to market their products effectively, fish vendors came up with the term “sushi-grade” to appeal to the consumers to purchase their products.

The only difference between the processing of regular and sushi-grade fish is the elimination of parasites through rigorous freezing in the latter’s case. And since these temperatures are difficult to reach with home refrigeration appliances, restaurants use super freezers to keep their produce in ideal shape and condition.

These freezers can reach temperatures as low as 50 degrees Celsius to accommodate most types of fish, even those that require extreme cold environments.

How safe is sushi-grade fish?

The primary problem any sushi-grade vendor faces is keeping the product free of any harmful elements such as parasites and worms.

However, Japan, the most famous sushi-consuming nation, has reported a minuscule number of infections caused by such factors. And the fun part?

Japanese don’t believe in pre-freezing their sushi, and they consume it without the whole refrigeration shenanigans.

This fact adds to the confusion surrounding the safety of sushi consumption and shows that there is much more to it than we know. However, to be on the safe side, every retailer or supplier must abide by the FDA rules to prevent any potential incidents.

Another critical thing to note is that the illness caused by eating contaminated sushi is similar to many common diseases such as food poisoning, fever, etc. So often, many cases go unreported or undetected due to a lack of critical awareness on this subject. It is always good to avoid fish that smells funny and immediately contact your doctor if you feel sick after a sushi dinner with your friend.

Let’s take tuna as an example. If you expose fresh tuna to temperatures above four degrees Celsius, it is very likely to grow a harmful enzyme that secretes Histamine inside the fish’s flesh. Histamine creates distress similar to poisoning in our body and cannot be eradicated through harsh temperatures, making the product useless.

This example clearly shows the importance of choosing the right vendor for your sushi needs, as the quality of your food entirely depends on their sourcing, storage, and cooking process. So to always be safe, make a healthy relationship with the person who handles your food, may it be a restaurant or your loving wife.

tuna sashimi

Where can I buy it?

Many people resort to a google search of “where to buy sushi-grade fish UK” to explore their options, while others opt for sushi-grade fish UK supermarkets.

If you’re searching for sushi-grade fish online UK, you may want to head over to Amazon and search from an extensive list of options from reputable brands. You can pick and choose one to safely get it delivered to the comfort of your home.

On the contrary, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can always head over to your local market to skim through your options.

However, make sure that you’re buying your produce from a trusted vendor or a market that offers the highest quality sushi-grade fish. For complete peace of mind, ask as many relevant questions as you can, such as:

  • What is the vendor’s definition of sushi-grade fish?
  • How was the fish sourced?
  • How long has it been since the fishers caught the fish?
  • What are the vendor’s sanitization protocols against sushi-grade fish

Additionally, use your humanly senses to judge the quality of the product through its smell and colour to ensure you’re buying healthy fish meat.

Opt for vibrant coloured fish with an ocean smell, and take a pass if the flesh is too flaky or soft.

6 Useful Sushi Grade Fish Tips:

If you’re planning to make sushi at home, here are a few valuable tips that can help you along the process:

sushi selection

1. Critically examine the fish market

The first thing you need to do is critically examine your fish market to filter out your best options and eradicate the ones that don’t seem ideal.

Many restaurants have an open kitchen where they prepare your meal in front of your eyes, which gives a sense of security about your food-handling procedure. But as this whole process can be deceiving, it is always advisable to be on the lookout for vendors that give you the most satisfaction against your safety standards.

2. Marine fish is the way to go

We advise you to purchase a complete fish and opt for one sourced from a marine environment. This way, you can judge the freshness of the product through its colour, eyes, and scales, etc.

3. Store in cold temperatures

The colder you’ll keep the fish, the more chances it has to survive another day in your storage bunk. However, make sure that you consume it the day you buy it, so you can minimize the risk of contamination and enjoy a fresh fish meal.

4. Scaling and Gutting is your job

Although a hectic job, you can scale and gut the fish yourself to ensure the cleanliness and hygiene of the produce. Keep it under running water to wash off the guts and blood thoroughly.

5. Sanitary work environment

Ensure that the tools you’re using have been sanitized and avoid touching the fish flesh unless necessary. Also, it is always a good idea to thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling the fish meat.

6. Keep an eye out for worms

Freezing the fish kills the parasites, but it doesn’t necessarily remove them. Hence, while washing, make sure that you are looking for small worms hiding in the flesh. You can remove them with your fingers or any worm-picking tool.

FAQs On Sushi Grade Fish

Don’t worry. We didn’t forget to address your remaining concerns, and this section of frequently asked questions will clear many doubts in your mind. Take a look:

sushi grade salmon

Can you eat supermarket salmon raw UK?

Different salmon products brands market their fish as sushi-grade to inform the buyers about the safety of consuming it raw. So it is always a good idea to check for the label before purchasing the product.

If you do not find the sushi-grade title anywhere on the packaging, it is best to avoid eating that salmon raw.

However, keep in mind that the sushi-grade label is as good as the brand’s reputation as there are no direct guidelines to judge the authenticity of their sourcing and storage process.

What does sushi-grade mean UK?

Sushi-grade fish refers to the type of fish that humans can consume without cooking. And not all fish are like that. Some require deep cooking/frying to kill the harmful organisms, while others are exposed to extreme cold temperatures to achieve the same.

Sushi is often the one that requires refrigeration below freezing temperatures to kill off any parasites that can contaminate your food, hence making it safe to eat even without rigorous cooking.

We all understand the risks of uncooked food such as worms, parasites, harmful bacteria, etc. And if you consume a regular fish that wasn’t meant to be eaten raw, you’ll most probably find yourself running in search of a restroom.

What is considered sushi-grade salmon?

As we described earlier, sushi-grade fish is a marketing term that refers to the edibility of a sea creature in raw form.

So sushi-grade salmon is the one you can consume without the worries of finding harmful parasites in them that can adversely affect your health.
Sushi-grade salmon are often sourced from private farms that have the necessary certification to carry out their business.

These farms follow the government-approved guidelines and ensure the absence of all harmful additives and chemicals. If you’re planning to buy salmon for your restaurant or home, we advise you always to source it from a reputable farm.

What fish can I use for sushi UK?

The common types of fish used for sushi in the UK are as follows:

Tuna

Tuna is one of the most common and oldest ingredients of sushi recipes due to the absence of parasites in its flesh. Tuna species can include Bluefin, Yellowfin, albacore, and skipjack.

Salmon

Salmon is another popular ingredient that has enriched sushi history with its delicious taste. Raw edible salmon are often bred on local farms on a parasite-free diet for optimum consumption.

Yellowtail

Although rich in mercury (harmful to health if consumed in large amounts), Yellowtail or Hamachi is responsible for many of the finest sushi recipes that chefs worldwide have to offer.

Flounder/Halibut

Flounder is another delicacy for sushi enthusiasts, and you can find it in the most luxurious restaurants.

Surf Clams

Oh, the chewy softness of surf clams! They have a noticeable ocean aroma, and restaurants often serve it in a flowery shape of fish meat. Yummy!

It is important to note that most freshwater fish such as trout tend to carry harmful parasites within them, especially tapeworm. These fish are better consumed after cooking or frying them to get rid of any strange elements.

On the contrary, seawater creatures are less prone to parasites, making them ideal for your sushi cravings.

Conclusion:

To conclude this guide, let us recap:

Sushi-grade fish is merely a marketing term to inform the buyers that the product can be eaten raw without any health consequences. But the authenticity of this term entirely depends on the credibility of the supplier/seller.

If you’re searching for an answer to the question, “where to get sushi-grade fish UK,” we are here to inform you that it is not a daunting task.

All it needs is a will to find the right product, the correct cooking procedure, and voila! You have a delicious meal waiting for you at your dinner table.

Stay safe, healthy, and informed. Cheers!

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Andy Canter

Andy

Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!