How to buy Sushi Grade Fish INFO
See the Online Listing with all UK Fishmongers selling Sushi Grade Fish in you area:click here
About the Campaign
Since 2007, Your Sushi has taught thousands of people across the UK how to make Sushi. Our customers go on to make Sushi at home using a range of fillings. We are very frequently asked to recommend reliable fishmongers who can supply raw fish for home Sushi making.
As a result, we are now actively working to bring fishmongers and Sushi lovers together across the UK with our Sushi Grade Fish Campaign.
Launched in April 2012, the Campaign includes an online UK database of fishmongers who stock sushi grade fish for purchase by the general public. Inclusion in the database is free to qualifying fishmongers. The database will be freely accessible to the general public.
Each fishmonger accepted into the Sushi Grade Fish Supplier database will be provided with our ‘Sushi Grade Fish’ stickers to display in their shop window and on their fish counters.
It is our objective that the Campaign will allow Sushi lovers to buy fish for home consumption with confidence as well as helping fishmongers to promote their expertise and the quality of the fish that they sell.
What is Sushi Grade Fish?
In the UK, there are no laws that define “sushi/sashimi grade” fish. It is no more than a marketing term. So let’s look at what people say in Japan. After all, Sushi and Sashimi, or the culinary culture of raw fish, comes from there. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, fish suitable for raw consumption must have less than 100 of vibrio parahaemolyticus per gram of fish. These are nasty bacteria that live mainly on the fish skin and can cause illness. This basically is it when it comes to the definition.
But what about the freshness?
To enjoy fish as sashimi or sushi, it has to be super fresh.
The long history of the Japanese cuisine developed the way fish is enjoyed depending on its freshness.
For example, there is a dish called “Arai” which can only be made with the fish that has been out of the water for only a few hours. Hence, it is known as a very exclusive dish only available in the restaurants that have the access to such fresh fish and have an experienced chef who knows how to treat the fish. For fish a little older than this would be suitable for sashimi and sushi.
Some years ago, researchers in Japan came up with the method to determine how fresh the fish is. The method works out what’s known as K value. As soon as the fish is killed, the enzymes in the muscle start to decompose the protein. Also the chemicals in the muscle (mainly ATP) begin to change its form.
The magic number, K value is expressed in % and interprets how much these changes have taken place.
The fresher the fish, the lower the K value. The fish with the K value of up to 20% is considered to be suitable for eating raw. 20% to 40% suitable for cooking with heat.
The fish kept at lower temperature, say up to 4 degree C (our fridge temperature), takes longer to reach 20% than the fish kept at higher temperature.
That’s why fish is usually kept with ice. Each fish is unique and so is its rate to increase the K value.
For example, if kept at just above freezing point, bream would take nearly 7 days to reach 20%, skipjack tuna would take only a couple of days.
Who uses the K Values?
Mainly fish farmers/processors and fish traders. The farmers want to sell on the freshness of their fish. So they establish the K values of their sample fish and use this in their sales pitch. Fish traders obviously find it useful because they don’t have to look any further than this % value!. Can we determine the freshness without the K value? Of course. Before the boffins devised the K value, everyone relied on their own senses to check how fresh the fish was. You use your eyes, nose and feel the touch.
The fresh fish:
– has the bright red gill, rather than brownish red:
– has clear eyes, not blood shot or cloudy
– should not smell, or it should just have the smell of sea
– the flesh should feel firm and springy to the touch.
3 things that help keep the fish fresher:
Scales, gut and blood. These are the 3 things that speed up the deterioration of fish. Around the scales is where bacteria live. Purely to keep the fish fresher, most fish is usually gutted and cleaned of any blood as soon as possible. If your fish isn’t scaled yet, ask the fishmonger to do so!
Issue of Parasite
Even if the fish is super fresh, parasite in it is a problem if it is eaten raw. Farmed fish is reared in the environment where parasites are managed to be non existent. But the wild fish is a different story. Of course, not all the wild fish has parasite. But then, there may be some that carry parasites. One common example is anisakis in mackerel.
Freezing kills parasites
The simplest and best way to deal with any possibility of parasite is to freeze the fish. According to European Union regulations, freezing fish at no more than −20°C (−4°F) for not less than 24 hours ensures parasites are killed. Sounds simple but it’s not. Because, if not done properly, freezing spoils the texture and flavour of fish. The proper freezing means using a fast freezing technique. Professional fast freezing units are often kept for commercial fish processors mainly because of its cost.
Do I need to freeze everything?
NO and that’s the good news!
We have talked to many many people to get to the bottom of this issue and this is the result. We were on the phone with 2 gentlemen recently, Steve Hardie from the Food Standard Agency Scotland and Jamie Smith from the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation. These are the two people who worked very hard to get the regulation changed so that farmed Scottish salmon does not have to be frozen for eating it raw.
The UK gov played a large role in getting the EU regularion being amended so that the scottish farmed salmon can be exempted from freezing requirement. The authorities looked at the result of the study funded by the FSA and the Scottish Salmon Producers Association and came to the conclusion that the risk of farmed Atlantic salmon carrying the parasite was neglisible. Therefore, freezing them would not be necessary. All of these consultation activities were going on in late 2011 and early 2012.
The old EU regulation was changed and the amended one, 1276/2011, which says the above, as introduced in Dec. 2011. The new regulation means, according to Jamie, in simple terms, “All famred Scottish salmon are safe to eat raw without freezing, therefore, you don’t have to freeze it.”
All salmon farmers in Scotland are members of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation. There are 3 farmers in Shetland who are not directly members but they are part of Shetland Salmon Farmers trade body, which is part of the Organisation. All members signed up for the Code of Practice which includes the farming method which in turn ensures that the risk of any parasites in salmon farmed according to the code is negligible. This change was introduced only at the start of the year 2012 so new to everyone!
Freezing Fish in a Standard Freezer
If fish is frozen using a standard domestic freezer, the freezing process takes a long period of time, which allows the water within the cell to form large ice crystals. As the crystal size outgrows the size of the cell, the cell walls are destroyed. This results in mushy piece of fish without any texture or flavour when it is defrosted. No good. To protect consumers from being food poisoned with parasites, the UK authorities recommend retailers to follow the freezing guidelines with the fish sold for raw consumption. As a consumer, do make sure that the fish you are buying had been properly frozen so you won’t be wasting your money.
Where can we go to buy Sushi Grade Fish?
The best way is to find a trust worthy fishmonger. That’s where the Fishmongers Listing in the Sushi Grade Fish Campaign comes in handy. The list will lead you to a quality fishmonger near you. The fishmongers you find there are passionate about what they do. They will tell you how fresh their fish are, where they come from and just about everything about fish.
They will be happy to prepare the fish the way you like.
They have the professional knowledge so let’s get the best out of them!