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I Guess I like Frozen Sushi


bourdain
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I guess that I kind of knew about this. When Food Network had a program on Morimoto building his place in Philadelphia there was a portion of the show dedicated to showing his swell new Japanese freezer that kept fish at -60F. They weren't clear on if he purchased it frozen or if he froze the fresh fish himself.

I know that much of of the tuna leaving New Orleans for Tokyo (it leaves virtually everyday and is on the market for the next morning's trade) is cut in Venice at the dock by Japanese fish buyers and sent packed in these specially built coffin-like ice chests and they use a special flaked ice to keep it perfect. I guess this means that some of it hits Japan fresh.

It would be interesting to know how much of the fish goes across the Pacific and then gets shipped back to the East Coast. That is a long damn trip for a hunk of fish to make. No wonder it costs so much!

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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An acquaintance of mine in Ithaca NY, who ran a restaurant when I was living there in the early 90's, routinely laughed about people who insisted that they were eating fresh fish when enjoying sushi and would never touch fish that had been frozen. It was his contention, based on his knowledge of NY State food service and agricultural law, that ALL fish to be consumed raw had to be frozen before being served - even if only for a brief spell and then quickly thawed. It was for the express reason stated in the article (killing parasites).

Then there was the bistro where I waited table in the 80's. During my orientation they advised me to not be puzzled when I saw frozen Brussel sprouts being used to prepare the menu item listed as "sautéed fresh Brussel sprouts with walnuts". I was assured that these were "special" frozen sprouts available only to the trade - ones that were "flash frozen" in the field and just as good as fresh. In an act of what appeared to be sheer lunacy, they actually implied that these might be better than fresh sprouts.

Where do I get me a home freezer that hits -76 degrees F? I want one of those.

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Most would be even more surprised to learn that if the sushi has not been frozen, it is illegal to serve it in the United States.

Food and Drug Administration regulations stipulate that fish to be eaten raw — whether as sushi, sashimi, seviche, or tartare — must be frozen first, to kill parasites. "I would desperately hope that all the sushi we eat is frozen," said George Hoskin, a director of the agency's Office of Seafood. Tuna, a deep-sea fish with exceptionally clean flesh, is the only exception to the rule.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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In an act of what appeared to be sheer lunacy, they actually implied that these might be better than fresh sprouts.

If super-frozen, they are. Compared to "fresh" that have been carted about for days.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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On my visit to Morimoto - we were told the most of the fish is caught, cleaned, and flash frozen on the boat using the air-blast method. Morimoto has a japanese freezer which can reach a temp of -90. I guess many of the sushi restautants in japan have such freezers as well. I'm not sure if this is a luxury or crutch though.

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Then there was the bistro where I waited table in the 80's. During my orientation they advised me to not be puzzled when I saw frozen Brussel sprouts being used to prepare the menu item listed as "sautéed fresh Brussel sprouts with walnuts". I was assured that these were "special" frozen sprouts available only to the trade - ones that were "flash frozen" in the field and just as good as fresh. In an act of what appeared to be sheer lunacy, they actually implied that these might be better than fresh sprouts.

Traditionally in England, Brussel sprouts are considered to be better after a frost. So maybe there is something in it.

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"We try to recognize that sushi has been made with fresh fish in Japan for thousands of years," said Terrance Powell, chief environmental health specialist for Los Angeles County.

I thought I read somewhere that Sushi was a clever invention by a japanese streetcart vendor around the 1830's, thus rendering one of the world's first "Fast Foods".

Anyone?

"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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Sushi was originally developed, as I understand it, as a way to safely preserve fish by controlled fermentation under rice. Freezing is also, coincidentally, a method of safe preservation.

It's interesting that the piece begins with the statement that "50 to 60 percent of sushi in the United States is frozen at some point in its journey from the ocean." That number strikes me as extremely low. I bet it's more like 95%.

The article also says that tuna is the only exception to the freezing rule. I'd have to check with the FDA, but it was my understanding that mollusks, crustaceans, and some farmed fish were also permitted. You can't tell me it's illegal to serve oysters that have never been frozen. And I think it may be permissible to serve farmed salmon raw.

The article also conveniently skips over the rampant lawbreaking that occurs at the top sushi places. Copper river salmon season will soon be upon us, and I assure you the better sushi places in New York and California will be serving specimens that were never frozen.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Back when I dove for Sea Urchins, (early 90's) the market fell off in summer since the roe were not yet mature. We used to hang around the buyer stations who would hire us to build tuna coffins. The smallest I remember were 400lbs, the largest 850lbs. They were not frozen, as they were brought in by smaller boats. They were encased in ice with plastic buffering, and they were out of there pretty fast. We got paid in belly meat and rum...

Interesting "Standards" page for anyone interested: http://www.ledafish.com/tuna.htm

"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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Sushi was originally developed, as I understand it, as a way to safely preserve fish by controlled fermentation under rice.

Yes, but that doesn't have much in common with what we call sushi today. That was invented by Hanaya Yohei in 1824 (according to one book I have).

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The article also conveniently skips over the rampant lawbreaking that occurs at the top sushi places. Copper river salmon season will soon be upon us, and I assure you the better sushi places in New York and California will be serving specimens that were never frozen.

Not to mention - "seared" fish - typically albacore or salmon. Especially Copper River.

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Back when I dove for Sea Urchins, (early 90's) the market fell off in summer since the roe were not yet mature.

Were you based out of San Pedro? One of the guys I work with used to dive for Urchins there. He has since hung up the fins and rubber knee pads.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Back when I dove for Sea Urchins

Darn; that's a job that I probably will never have. I think johnnyd wins hands down for having had the most interesting job of anyone who has ever posted on egullet!

It even beats my job working as Mr. Peanut and the time I spent working on a tomato ranch (10,000 acres in total - 5,000 of them all growing tomatoes).

You can't top diving for sea urchins.

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Diving out of San Pedro sounds like a picnic except for getting confused for a seal at the surface by a shark. I dove for seven years out of every Maine port in the Gulf of Maine from Kennebunkport to Jonesport. That's a five hour drive between the two if your wondering.

The difference btwn CA and ME is our peak season was December when the water is about 45 degrees, so it's strictly a drysuit affair with wool sweaters and everything you usually ski in underneath. CA diving is deep water diving using surface supplied air, while we used scuba tanks in the surf zone where the better light nurtured beaucoup kelp - urchins' favourite food, thus the unholy neon colour orange the market clamored for.

The drawback was if it's blowing 20knots out of the SW the heavy seas were going to f*ck you up, big time. SLBUNGE: tell your chum that we used hockey pads, even on the elbows!

More later, dinner is ready...

"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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"We try to recognize that sushi has been made with fresh fish in Japan for thousands of years," said Terrance Powell, chief environmental health specialist for Los Angeles County.

I thought I read somewhere that Sushi was a clever invention by a japanese streetcart vendor around the 1830's, thus rendering one of the world's first "Fast Foods".

Anyone?

The type of sushi you are referring to that was "invented" in the 1800's is the nigiri sushi type, also referred to as edo-mae sushi. This is the product that is most often referred to as sushi the slice of fish (or other item) on an oval of rice.

Before that there was oshi-zushi (pressed sushi), which is actually still very popular in the Kansai (Osaka and surrounds) area, this is when the fish is fermented with vinegared rice and pressed in special molds for a period of time. This is the type of sushi that has been around for ages and initially the rice was thrown away and only the fish was eaten. This style of preserving fish most likely started in Thailand and then moved through China before making its way to Japan.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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We got paid in belly meat and rum...

I believe that this sort of payment would result in a condition that for most of us would be known as:

Fat and Happy :raz::laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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One thing that would have enhanced the article would have been a taste test. As much as I admire and respect Shin Tsujimura, his testimony that he can't taste the difference between fresh and frozen tuna just doesn't cut it as the whole evidentiary basis for a New York Times article. The Times should assemble a panel of its food writers and maybe some chefs and really get to the bottom of this. Because the article raises some interesting issues, but it doesn't answer the fundamental question: is it possible to freeze fish in such a way that not even the world's top sushi chefs can tell the difference? If there's no difference in taste or texture, by all means, go ahead and freeze it all. If not, let's hear what the differences are so we can decide -- as with raw milk cheeses -- whether or not we support the regulations.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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