Can you eat raw salmon from the grocery store? Can you eat raw salmon from Costco? These are the common questions that we get from sushi enthusiasts who branch off into making sushi at home.
We know it can be not very clear at first how to handle raw fish because we were taught that fish has to be handled and then cooked before eating. But what do you do with salmon when you want to slice it and eat it raw? This is the first day of your sushi education. Read today’s blog!
Is Store Bought Salmon Safe to Eat Raw?
Can you eat store-bought salmon raw? There are several classes of fish sold in supermarkets, and generally speaking, no, it is not safe to take any fresh salmon from the supermarket and slice it for sushi or sashimi. Fish that is meant for raw consumption is handled and displayed differently to minimize cross-contamination risk.
Fish that are displayed side by side with other fish that came in later in the day or may have been iced to keep them fresher pose risks for salmon that is meant to be filleted and then eaten in the form of nigiri or sashimi.
What Kind of Salmon Is Safe to Eat Raw?
Can you eat Atlantic salmon raw? Atlantic salmon and other commonly filleted salmons for raw food can be eaten without cooking. However, certain safety guidelines must be taken into account before you nosh down on some raw/fresh Atlantic salmon.
The ideal setting for purchasing Atlantic salmon or any salmon is buying them “fresh frozen.” “Fresh frozen” is a marketing term. You can’t have fish that is both fresh and frozen at the same time. However, what this term emphasizes is the fish was flash-frozen immediately after being caught.
So you have freshly-caught salmon that was immediately blasted to -40°F-30°F (4°C- -1°C) to make sure that the freshest taste of newly caught fish was preserved. We can contrast this preservation method to iced fish, brought back to port, processed, and then frozen before being shipped to fishmongers and supermarkets. What’s interesting about this method is that flash-freezing fish quickly after it was caught does provide a superior experience to consumers.
In addition to Atlantic salmon, there are other kinds of salmon that you can use for making sushi and sashimi at home:
- King salmon – The king salmon is the most massive variety of salmon. The king salmon is caught in the Pacific and some parts of the Japan Sea and near Alaska. A small percentage are caught near Hokkaido as well during their migration. King salmon is also farmed in many regions, including Chile and Australia.
- Chum salmon – The chum salmon is what is commonly referred to as “salmon” in Japan. This fish is either called “shake” or “sake” in Japan. The chum salmon typically spends five years in the Pacific before returning to Japanese freshwater streams. The spawning season for this fish is September to November.
- Pink salmon – This type of salmon is common in the United States, and it is commonly caught along the coastline of California, all the way to Alaska. In Asia, the pink salmon is harvested along with Hokkaido and the Korean peninsula. In Japan, they tend to swim upstream in freshwater bodies for spawning. Pink salmon is canned because its flesh is very soft, and it’s ideal for many kinds of food preparations.
- Silver salmon – The silver salmon are harvested in the Northern Pacific, and this variant does not swim upstream in Japanese freshwater bodies. Due to demand, silver salmon has been farmed for years now to stabilize the global supply.
- Red salmon – The red salmon (also called the benizake) is found in the major seas, including the Bering Sea. There are no wild red salmon in Japan, but they are raised there via aquaculture and then returned to the rivers and streams to grow to full size. For red salmon to spawn naturally, the river has to be connected to a lake to swim upstream precisely for this purpose. Red salmon is not normally used for sushi, but they can be prepared if available. Normally, red salmon is pickled, smoked, and canned.
How Do You Know If Salmon Is Safe to Eat Raw?
Apart from consuming salmon that is served as sushi or sashimi in a sushi restaurant with professional and highly-trained chefs, the one thing that you should keep in mind when eating raw fish is the source.
It is imperative that you only eat raw fish that has been handled and preserved properly. According to experts, the fish has to have been blast-frozen. Some blast-freezing methods lower the temperature to -31°F or -35°C.
What this extreme temperature does is it kills any surviving parasites in the meat of the fish. Regular freezing and refrigeration do not accomplish this. Usually, parasites and their eggs only become dormant when frozen if the parasites should be found in the fish.
To be truthful, some parasites are found in the fish’s meat before humans even handle them. The ocean is home to so many living creatures, including parasites, that sometimes this cannot be avoided anymore. So remember – home freezers don’t normally achieve this temperature, so you can’t just freeze fish that hasn’t been handled properly and expect the parasites to die.
Before preparing the fish, make sure that there is no bruising on the fish’s surface and that there are also no odd odors. Fishy odors that make your nose crinkle usually means ammonia, and ammonia is a sign of the fish disintegrating. Bin the fish if you smell anything off. Do not eat any raw fish with odd smells.