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Trusting the fish at...


liv4fud
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I always look at the tasty ways the chefs prepare fishes and always leave with a one liner at the end - don't over cook your fish.

The problem is - being a converted carnivore - and being bombarded by news about all kinds of bacteria and food borne illnesses... I tend to over cook meat.

Though I have invested in a pricey digital thermometer, I don't know when and where to stop the cooking of fish (chicken I am finally getting good control off).

Another issue is that sashimi style fish cooking. I love sushi - can't get enough of it - but dread to make sushi or sashimi at home due to not knowing if I can trust the fish bought at costco, sams, jewel, dominicks, or other stores to keep them rare or raw...

Could someone guide me please...

(btw, just moved to Naperville / Route 59 area - so references to stores in the area would be welcome)

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I enjoy sashimi made at home regularly, but I am rather picky about it, and have only used the very freshest looking cuts of tuna steaks from either Harris Teeter (my preferred fish source) or Food Lion. If I'm looking at tuna that has started to discolor in any way or looks dry, while I'll still maybe get some, I won't be doing sashimi. Keeping that rule I've never had any, um, shall we say digestive issues slurping it down raw.

I'd imagine as long as you apply basic fish freshness rules (odor, texture, etc) you'll be fine regardless the store.

I'll leave the cooking part to someone more informed--I don't use a thermometer on my fish, it's always look-and-feel to me.

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Hi there,

Two great places to get fresh fish in the Chicago area (I don't know of any super close to Naperville):

Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights (awesome for sushi-grade fish with usually very good prices--bring a cooler to transport it home, plus they have a giant sushi food court) and L. Isaacson and Stein Fish Company on Lake Street at Halsted in downtown Chicago (again bring a cooler--but I usually only buy whole fish here as they do sometime try to trick the unknowing into buying things that aren't perfectly fresh by mixing in the past day's inventory with the current--so check the gills and the eyes). But you should also check or post on the LTH forum, which is Chicagoland specific. I think I remember a thread about fish stores in the area. (Sorry if it's blasphemy to talk about other food forums on egullet.)

As for done-ness, I also usually just eyeball it, based on how thick the piece is. Very thin fillets really only need a minute or two per side. I vaguely remember that there is some sort of rule of thumb for doneness (like so many minutes per inch of thickness), but what it is, I couldn't tell you. For a whole fish, if it's not obvious, I usually stick a fork in the thickest part and see if it starts to flake. You could always do this for any fish, as long as you don't care what it looks like, but keep in mind that a lot of fishes are best served rare to medium rare (like tuna).

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Malkavian, please, never buy fish for raw consumption at Food Lion. They lost their credibility and standards in the early 1990's with the bleach issue. They burst my "vessel of trust".

Also, Malkavian, there are better sources in North Carolina for the freshest fish other than Harris Teeter and Food Lion. :shock:

liv4fud, I would l leave the sushi and sashimi to the pros until you find a fish monger that you are completely confident in using.

In the interim, don't overcook your qualified (respectfully sourced) tuna and other fish. Overcooking is a deal stopper / ugly epicurean experience. For example, shrimp are, in my humble opinion, the most overcooked saltwater treasures in the world, for example. Flatfish are next. Look for the appropriate signs of "cooked to the extent I want" - fish flesh striations, lines, etc.

Best wishes and intentions,

M.

:smile:

Motochef, formerly of Greensboro, NC, and now Houston, TX.

Edited by Motochef (log)

Motochef! Enjoying fine food while motorcycle touring.

Motoblog! Motochef's Notes, Comments and Points of Interest

Motochef!

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I feel much safer buying sashimi-grade fish for home consumption from people who know their sashimi--namely an Asian grocery catering to Japanese customers. In fact, I get most of my seafood these days from Asian markets; the rest is the flash-frozen seafood from Trader Joe's.

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Moto- I assure you buying fish at food lion (actually buying meats at all) is not a regular practice for me; sadly it just happens to be the only grocery store within a reasonable drive from my house :( (Yes, I'm moving soon ;))

not to hijack the thread, but would you have a suggestion on sourcing in Charlotte? There are a number of smallish markets around, but I wouldn't know if one is better than the other (or avoid them all and go *there*, etc)

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I'll second mitsuwa maket - it's a Japanese food mall, basically. The food court there is pretty great, too. Also, honestly, in Chicago I would recommend Whole Foods. They really do take good care of their fish and are pretty knowledgeable about it. I like Isaacson's, too, but as somebody else pointed out you really do need to know how to select fresh fish there

"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

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I think Jewel belongs in a special hall of shame. Back when I still shopped there, they sometimes didn't even indicate when fish was previously frozen.

In addition to Mitsuwa, you have True World Market just down the street from there. Also Super H mart in Niles and I believe there was another branch opening up to the west.

Oh yes, and I have found Burhops pretty good; I think your nearest one is in Glenview. And is Sea Ranch still there on Lake in Wilmette?

Edited by Tess (log)
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I feel much safer buying sashimi-grade fish for home consumption from people who know their sashimi--namely an Asian grocery catering to Japanese customers. In fact, I get most of my seafood these days from Asian markets; the rest is the flash-frozen seafood from Trader Joe's.

I've only ever gotten flash-frozen fillets marked as being for sushi from the local Han Ah Reum. However, I'd considered the Trader Joe's route as well, since they're a more frequent stop.

Tell me, how has their flash-frozen seafood worked out for you for sushi? Any particularly good, bad, or otherwise notable varieties? I assume you slice it directly from frozen and let thaw to use.

David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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I would love some tips on thawing sashimi-grade fish. I have bought frozen fish twice from Mitsuwa and both times once they were thawed I didn't find them appetizing enough to eat raw, and wound up cooking them. The last time was annoying because what I thought was a block of salmon turned out to be already cut into sushi pieces and I had to cook each tiny piece. Seared and with a pan sauce of white wine, they tasted fine, but what a pain.

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I would love some tips on thawing sashimi-grade fish. I have bought frozen fish twice from Mitsuwa and both times once they were thawed I didn't find them appetizing enough to eat raw, and wound up cooking them. The last time was annoying because what I thought was a block of salmon turned out to be already cut into sushi pieces and I had to cook each tiny piece. Seared and with a pan sauce of white wine, they tasted fine, but what a pain.

All depends on the packaging, I suppose. I find frozen butterflied ebi (sweet shrimp) a bit difficult to manage, but whole fillets can be easily sliced from frozen and allowed to thaw in a single layer on a plate. (Be sure to soak up the excess liquid before serving.)

Had you tried partially thawing the salmon, enough to separate the slices, and then thawing completely? I would try that approach.

David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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Had you tried partially thawing the salmon, enough to separate the slices, and then thawing completely?  I would try that approach.

That's what I will do next time-- thanks! I was taken aback when I went to cook it and found it in slices; now I will know to suspect that.

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