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Japanese foods--sushi/sashimi


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I was reading an encyclopedia of Asian food last night and it said that Salmon is never eaten raw in Japan, but rather quickly grilled or marinated ceviche style. Is this true and if so why? I always kinda thought that free swimming predators were generally eaten raw, while bottom dwellers were always cooked, but now see this is wrong.

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It is quite a common to see salmon sashimi in Japan now, though it is a newer face in the world of sushi. Most of what you will see is king salmon though, the more common Japanese sake (salmon) is not commonly used for sashimi and is normally sold salted and meant to be cooked.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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It is quite a common to see salmon sashimi in Japan now, though it is a newer face in th world of sushi. Most of what you will see is king salmon though, the more common Japanese sake (salmon) is not commonly used for sashimi and is normally sold salted and meant to be cooked.

Why was salmon not eaten raw in Japan until recently? Reasons of health? Taste?

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I don't know for sure, but I have found a site describing that natural salmon, whether fresh or not, cannot be eaten raw unless they are frozen first, because you never know whether they have parasitic insects in them.

http://www.siretoko.com/sake/sakesasimi.htm

(Japanese only. All other links are in Japanese only too.)

We DO eat salmon raw.

And I'd like to present lu-i-be ルイベ, eaten in Hokkaido.

http://www.tominagasuisan.co.jp/resip/ruibe/ruibe.htm

Lu-i-be is an Ainu word meaning sashimi of frozen fish.

http://www.sukoyakanet.or.jp/recipe/words/ra/ruibe.html

Usually, salmon and cod are eaten as lu-i-be.

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
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Hello again,

as a physician, we learned in medical school and during our training in the treatment of infectious diseases, that fresh water fish usually plays host to a multitude of parasites, as Hiroyuke has mentioned.

For many many years, salmon sashimi has been a staple in Japanese restaurants outside of japan. Go to any Hotel buffet in any Southeast Asian city and salmon sashimi and gravlax are very common fare. One reason is that farmed salmon is so much cheaper than fresh tuna in places like Hong Kong.

The salmon being served as sashimi however is usually farmed salmon from countries like Norway or Canada.

Farmed salmon spend their whole life in seaborne fish pens and do not migrate into fresh water streams like wild salmon; therefore, they do not pick up the parasites commonly seen in fresh water fish or migratory wild salmon.

Indeed, as Hiroyuki mentioned, freezing is one method to kill, or minimize the threat of parasites.

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I always kinda thought that free swimming predators were generally eaten raw, while bottom dwellers were always cooked, but now see this is wrong.

What about Flounder? Or is that just some crappy filler fish that american japanese restaurants use to fill out a plate?

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I always kinda thought that free swimming predators were generally eaten raw, while bottom dwellers were always cooked, but now see this is wrong.

What about Flounder? Or is that just some crappy filler fish that american japanese restaurants use to fill out a plate?

I don't think flounder is a typical "bottom dweller" in the same way as, say, catfish is. Flounder do primarily spend their time on the bottom of the ocean as protection, but they are still predator fish rather than scavengers. I also think danjou's comment about fresh water fish vs. ocean fish is pertinent - as an ocean fish, flounder is less likely to carry diseases (unless of course, Animal House is involved).

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Hi,

I wish to add there can be parasites in Ocean fish too. :unsure:

Flounder, also called "hirame" in sushi bars, makes fantastic sashimi.

We have wonderful flounder here in Manila, some as large as 3 to 4 pounds.

The meat is sweet and succulent, and is one of my favorite sashimi.

However flounder can indeed be infested by worms (Anisakis ).

There can also be parasites in swordfish ( Kajiki), bonito ( katsuo), haddock, cod, herring, monkfish as well as pacific salmon.

The main parasites are :

Anisakis simplex (herring worm),

Pseudoterranova decipiens (cod or seal worm),

Contracaecum and Hysterothylacium

All are roundworms that can cause infections from the eating of raw or partially cooked seafood.

Anisakiasis can be an extremely painful illness requiring surgery ro remove the worm.

To prevent infection, restaurants and sushi chefs especially, must follow the recommendations from the FDA, which states that:

All fish and shellfish intended for raw (or partially raw, such as marinated or partly cooked) consumption BE BLAST FROZEN TO -35°C (-31°F) OR BELOW for 15 hours, or be frozen to -20°C (-4°F) or below for 7 days.

Just make sure you know the restaurant and chef who makes your sashimi, and that they follow strict safety guidelines in the preparation of seafood.

Don't mean to scare you.... :sad:

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Hi,

I wish to add, that the main danger from eating fresh water salmon and other fresh water fish is the high risk of infection by the fish tapeworm, Diphyllobothrium latum.

Again, proper freezing and cooking will prevent infection.

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danjou writes:

Flounder, also called "hirame" in sushi bars, makes fantastic sashimi.

We have wonderful flounder here in Manila, some as large as 3 to 4 pounds.

The meat is sweet and succulent, and is one of my favorite sashimi.

Yes, flounder can be great sushi/sashimi. Actually, there are two classes of bottom-dwelling flatfish -- karei and hirame. The principle difference between the two is the location of the eyes (left side versus rigth side). There are a number of species within the definition of hirame and within the definition of karei. This means that there are also significant gradations of quality, as well as varying prime seasons.

One of the prized parts of the fish is engawa, which a thin, narrow cut of the heavily striated muscular flesh surrounding the fin. For me, the texture is a delight.

To prevent infection, restaurants and sushi chefs especially, must follow the recommendations from the FDA, which states that:

All fish and shellfish intended for raw (or  partially raw, such as marinated or partly cooked) consumption BE BLAST FROZEN TO -35°C (-31°F) OR BELOW for 15 hours, or be frozen to -20°C (-4°F) or below for 7 days.

Just make sure you know the restaurant and chef who makes your sashimi, and that they follow strict safety guidelines in the preparation of seafood.

That may indeed be the recommendation, but I can tell you that it is not followed in almost any decent restaurant in Japan that serves raw fish (with traditional Hokkaido restaurants excepted).

Most maguro (other than perhaps that from the Sea of Japan) will have been flash frozen, as will a few other items that simply cannot come out of dayboat, diver, or local harvesting type environments. The remainder, though, will often be never-frozen.

How many times have people here eaten live aji, odori ebi, lobster sashimi, and any number of the myriad other live/fresh raw seafood products? Some of my fondest memories are of cutting my own sashimi right on the boat from live fish I had just pulled from the water.

Perhaps I am in denial, but I just can't take that warning seriously. Then again, I also ignore the FDA's advice to cook eggs until they have no flavor and no texture other than rubber. I also eat rare (and even raw) meat.

I just think there's such a thing as an acceptable level of measured risk.

Then again, if there are risk statistics I should hear, I'm willing to listen...at least with one ear.

(danjou, please note that this is not an attack on you, but that I have little respect for the American food regulatory apparatus that scares people off of good fresh food, minimally processed or cooked...while at the same time allowing the most appalling crap to be served and sold to the public with nary a warning in sight.)

Edited by jrufusj (log)

Jim Jones

London, England

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

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Anisakiasis can be an extremely painful illness requiring surgery ro remove the worm.

In my parasitology class i did a paper on anasakiasis and to my surprise my general findings were that it is a relatively benign disease. Even if you did eat fish with the worms and eggs, the likelihood of it getting bad enough to warrant surgery is extremely rare. The usual symptoms are stomach upset but that usually goes away by itself. The incidence of anasakid worm presence far outstrips the incidence of anasakiasis, which suggests that they're not terribly aggressive, or aggressive enough to really be a problem. I don't think you should scare yourself with this particular disease.

After my paper, I felt better about eating sashimi, though the threat of disease hadn't bothered me much even before that. :biggrin:

There are other, more realistic things to worry about, like heart disease...

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Hi guys,

no offense taken :smile: 1

Sushi and sashimi have literally exploded in popularity all over the world in recent years.

As it is very safe to eat in Japan because of the very high standard of training of sushi chefs, it can be a different matter abroad.

While there are many extremely good sushi bars abroad, there are even more which are actually very poor.

Not every sushi bar abroad can boast of a chef who has trained at say,Ginza Sushi Ko, and who has risen through the ranks after years of hard training so important to the creation of a top chef.

Many foreigners are still unaware of what is good sushi or what qualities to look for in a sushi bar.

You have a huge number of poorly trained chefs attempting to make sushi all over, and more often than not, they lack the essential knowledge of how to handle fish or even a knowledge of basic hygiene.

I have seen this so often, where a restaurant owner serving say, barbecued chicken, decides to open a sushi bar on the side, but because he is too stingy to hire a real sushi chef he gets the busboy ( or even the parking attendant in one case), puts him in sushi chef attire, and borrows or pirates another poorly trained novice from a Japanese restaurant to train the busboy for a few weeks.

Bad habits and poor training and shortcuts are further propagated in this manner.

And after just a few weeks of "training", the busboy now thinks he is a real sushi chef. And he passes on his poor skills and bad habits when he 'trains" others.

Then there are some restaurant owners who hire a real sushi chef from Japan for a few months to train a few guys. But because of the cost, the chef has to be sent back to Japan, and the barely trained novices are left on their own.

The result of all this is that the public is placed at risk.

We did have a clinical pathological conference a few months back of a patient with intestinal obstruction, and the culprit was found to be anasakid worm infection.

I do agree with you that presence far outstrips incidence, and in adults it is a generally benign illness, but seeing that there are increasingly younger children now eating raw fish, a nematode infection can be a real problem.

There is a need for some kind of international certification for chefs who make sushi and sashimi, awarded only to those who have endured the very crucial long, rigorous training. Although we can never eliminate worms from fish, at least good training and certification will minimize further any health risk.

Lacking this or some international standard, and with the continued proliferation of sushi bars abroad of uncertain quality and poor hygiene standards, I can only suggest that customers abroad may wish to use at least the FDA and CDC guidelines to guide them.

I am now off to my favorite sushi bar, and have an order of Oki Zuke :smile: , a zujiko donburi ( ....heart attack in a bowl) :blink: , and perhaps some chu toro and a natto maki to finish :raz::raz: .

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A few things to point out.

Salmon is not a fresh water fish, although born in fresh water commercially caught salmon and farm raised salmon are salt water fish.

Any salmon farm or wild is subject to parasites.

The popularity of salmon sashimi is only because of the modern practice of blast or flash freezing to very cold termperatures. This is why salmon is not a traditional sushi/sashimi fish.

What is sold as "King Salmon" in Japan is generally farmed Atlantic salmon from Norway, New Zealand or British Columbia. Real King Salmon are a species also known as Chinook, found in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.

Bottom fish are not just flat fish - they are fish that feed at the bottom. Cod for example are bottom fish.

------------------------

to taberu is to ikiru

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Many foreigners are still unaware of what is good sushi or what qualities to look for in a sushi bar.

This is indeed a problem. Unfortunately, the people who traipse happily to Snotdripper's Sushi and Salad Bar are not going to be deterred by the little question of whether the place complies with an FDA freezing guideline.

Also (please note that I am about to make this assertion based on instinct rather than empirical fact), I suspect the other health risks created by poorly trained sushi prep workers are much greater than the health risks of parasites. I shudder even to imagine what kinds of creepy-crawlies are running around on those counters. I eat things that make most people blanch, but I am extremely picky about where I will eat sushi or sashimi. That pickiness, however, has nothing to do with freezing.

Lacking this or some international standard, and with the continued proliferation of sushi bars abroad of uncertain quality and poor hygiene standards, I can only suggest that customers abroad may wish to use at least the FDA and CDC guidelines to guide them.

Again, I acknowledge that there is a large and growing problem with poorly trained sushi prep workers. I hope the various health departments will continue to enforce food safety laws agressively.

But I have a hard time getting worked up over freezing and parasites when there are vast proportions of the population growing up on McDonald's fries and Lunchables. And I promise you, I'm not one of those Center for Science in the Public Interest Naderite types. I am embarassingly far to the right of most on this board.

I just watch people all over the world poisoning themselves and their children every day with the processed crap. I'd love to give them all a nice big plate of unfrozen sashimi. They'd be much better off for it.

Sorry for going off, but it just pisses me off to see the FDA spending time and my money on these issues when there are real problems to address.

I am now off to my favorite sushi bar, and have an order of Oki Zuke :smile: , a zujiko donburi ( ....heart attack in a bowl)  :blink: , and perhaps some chu toro  and a natto maki to finish :raz:  :raz: .

Enjoy,

Jim

Jim Jones

London, England

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

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Can someone out there point out to me how I can tell if a piece of fish is sashimi grade in a Japanese market? Back home in the states, the sashimi grade fish was labelled as suchl But so far here in Tokyo, I have just been eyeballing it.

I realize that of course there are packets of pre-sliced sashimi that would definitely qualify, but I am looking to buy a bigger block of fish for a party. Most of the fish at my local seifu look so wonderful anyway, will I be able to get away with buying just any fresh looking piece of fish?

-thanks

_A

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I would not eat any fish for sashimi unless it is labeled either namashokuyou (生食用) or sashimiyou (刺身用 さしみ用).

They are normally all grouped together in the fish section.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
Am I a cretin for saying my favorite is eel? Any kind of eel. Sea, river, Central Park reservoir, anything. I love that eel.

I don't think so. I was stationed in Japan for a couple of years while I was formerly in the military service, and had the luxury of frequenting many local establishments and the wide variety of sushi available. I found anago, or eel, with a coating of a certain sauce, to be pretty much my favorite sushi. And the others I liked as well, traditional ebi, tunas, octopus and squid, etc.

I am not a big fan of cucumber, or seaweed much either, so many of those type of sushi I did not eat often. But they eat the crap out of seaweed based products over there, I guess it tastes fine to them LOL.

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Welcome redfish. Excellent bump.

My favorites are white tuna, ikura (salmon roe), uni (sea urchin) and amaebi (sweet shrimp).

Edited by hillvalley (log)

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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I am a huge fan of mackerel. I am told it's sort of a down-market thing, and my mom always rolls her eyes and tells me I have peasant tastes when I order it out with her, but I just eat it and smirk.

I love ikura and amaebi too. I ADORE ika (raw squid).

I like uni, but hate the aren't-i-clever "what does uni (Eunny) taste like?" joke and its many related cousins, so rarely order it :sad:

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I am really glad you bumped this up Redfish. Welcome to eGullet.

I am crazy for fatty fish, eel, sea urchin, raw squid (when I KNOW that it is in good shape-I would not order it just anywhere) and like Jason-I love those baby softshells and fortunately they are common in sushi places here as they are local and fresh-I also really like roe of all kinds.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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hmm... I'm an all-time lover of tuna, I mean, lean tuna (akami), not fatty toro.

And I don't go to sushi bars. THEY STINK. I buy tuna at a supermarket, and I make vinegared rice myself.

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  • 1 month later...

Absolute Faves:

Ankimo - Monkfish liver

Mentaiko - Codfish roe (spicy!)

Kazunoko - Herring Roe

Very high on the list:

Ika w/shiso

Aji - horse mackeral

Amaebi - when in season

...and of course:

Toro

Mirugai

Shiro Maguro

Hamachi

Saba...

...oh, hell. I like 'em all but I still struggle w/natto and things w/ume, but I'm winning that battle. UNI above all because I used to dive for the little bastards.

:cool:

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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i was just at a sushi restaurant, and asked about the fishtank of little live crab sitting on the counter. our waitress said they were japanese river crabs. i asked her how they were eaten, and she told us that they were either eaten live, or lightly fried. i asked for 2 fried and 2 live.

the live ones came out with a dab of chilli sauce, the fried ones with a ponzu sauce. i asked if i should eat the crab head first or tail first, and the waitress started laughing - but said it didn't matter. i guess that should have made me suspicious, but i went for it. just about everyone in the restaurant seemed to be looking at me. however, that isn't terribly rare for me - and indian person in a sushi bar - and i was eating a live creature, after all, which even if it is a regular even is still quite dramatic.

anyway, i ate it, and it wasn't terribly exciting - the shell was quite chalky, and the insides were mostly liquid. i guess i was expecting to taste more of the mustard. we then ate the fried ones, which were quite nice.

it was only after i left the restaurant that i started putting things together - the laughing waitress... the staff all craning their necks to take a look at me... the fact that they told me the names of the crabs. i'm still not sure though...

so tell me - did i have a delicacy, or was i had?

Dinner Diaries - It's what's for dinner!

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