Saturday, August 29, 2009

Only Eat Freshest Sushi from a Chef You Trust, Right?

Yesterday, DW Jenny brought home supermarket sushi. The first time I had raw fish sushi, the cognoscente said, "Always eat it at a Japanese restaurant from a chef you trust." Later I was lucky enough to go to a sushi bar in Japan and my Japanese host explained how it is so important to have the freshest fish so that you don't get sick.

Seven or eight years ago, when I saw sushi the first time at the discount supermarket, I thought "I am going to stay a million miles away from that". So yesterday, when I ate some supermarket sushi I was worried.

When I looked up sushi safety, it turns out the facts are surprisingly different.

Sushi Facts, Strange but True

1. There is more bacteria in restaurant raw fish sushi than in factory-made sushi. Home-made sushi is worst of all.

2. Bacteria is not the real health risk, its fish parasites. [This link is even more gross.]

3. Frozen fish is healthier than fresh fish because freezing kills most fish parasites. In most states sushi fish must be frozen before serving for this reason. Sushi chefs say that does not affect texture that much.

4. It is too complicated to keep track of the safest kind of sushi salmon -- best not to eat raw salmon. Supposedly, the Japanese use smoked salmon only.

5. Sushi-grade fish is better than regular fish.

6. Never eat raw fish sushi from fresh water fish or from a fish you never heard of. Never eat raw rockfish.

7. Raw tuna is a good choice. I know tuna is loaded with mercury, but the portion size in sushi is vanishly small.

The bottom line is that I like sushi and sashimi, and I am going to continue eating them. I probably will watch the varieties of fish more closely.

The supermarket sushi we bought at Kroger in Brownstown were pretty good. The simpler, less expensive roll was very good, and the fancy variety was average. I don't want to think about side effects. If I get sick today, I'm going to blame it on my picnic lunch.