Searching for Sushi Grade Seafood

Oh, yes, now I remember reading this article
when someone posted it last year. Maybe my brain will retain it a second time. Thanks.

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Everything AND the ‘oink’!

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All itamae worth a lick age (to some extent) all their fish

I’ve been a fisherman all my life. One thing that always surprises people I give fish to or people new to fishing is that fish is NOT at its peak the day you catch it – not by a mile. Actually, fish day-of-catch is kinda bad. All fish needs some time to relax, depending on the type of fish and what you’re using it for, it could peak after just one night or it could be 5 or more days before it peaks.

Tuna, particularly otoro, peaks right before it spoils. Local yellowtail (which is hiramasa, NOT hamachi) is downright crunchy when eaten raw within the first couple days of catching. Not pleasant.

And I’m not doing any fancy complex dry aging process, this is just a combination of leaving the fish thoroughly on ice for a few days before cracking it or leaving the fillets on ice and/or in the fridge for a few days after filleting.

Dry aging supposedly enhances the benefits of the few days’ age I do, and I’m super curious to see for myself, but my point in general is that no itamae is going to serve you a truly fresh fish because they’re gross, even if it was logistically feasible to do so.

A good itamae would know exactly how many days old the fish is and how it was handled from catch to plate, and often would do some further aging in house until the texture and flavor peaks. Knowing that timing is a big part of the skill of the chef.

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Interesting and helpful. Thanks @Eater15!

Agreed on all topics, seems like a general misconception that “the fresher, the better”.

The only counterpoint I’ll make is that some people(regions/ethnicity) actually prefer that crunchy texture. Which is why see quite a few restaurants that serve live or just killed fish. In my limited experience I find that traditionally Koreans prefer quite a bit more bite to their sushi depending on the fish and person of course. Secondly, I think your point is limited to finfish because the other exception to this rule is live/fresh shellfish but that may be obvious to most.

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does this apply to hikarimono like saba?

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Yes, it’s possible. Kimura-san has been known to age his sardines up to 10 days.

… with the one exception possibly being live fish prepared ikizukuri-style…

I remember talking to Maru-san and he said that the smaller the fish, the better it is fresh.

I’m unsure if they increase in flavor/texture after a few days of going through rigor or if much changes besides a general breaking down of shelf life. I think you’re more likely to see them broken down quickly into fillets and used in a more traditional kombujime or brine/cure/marinade, etc if anything but @Eater15 might have better insight into those fish because we don’t use them often in our lineup.

Additionally, hikarimono tend to be on the smaller end of the spectrum as far as fish size goes(with some minor exceptions) so I know there’s not much benefit from dry aging to my knowledge generally and the relaxing of the muscles after death should be a much shorter time line.

I’ve always heard for saba, “the fresher, the better” because it spoils so quickly. is saba not at its peak freshly caught?

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It will spoil faster.

I believe if it killed ikejime, it will stay fresh a little longer and keep the meat more flavorful so it doesn’t have to be eaten so soon after it is killed.

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I know that it’s common practice to use the ikejime method on seki saba but I’m unsure how much of that stuff makes it stateside as costs are usually huge over more readily available saba from other regions.

He’s doing a zoom talk with Now Serving just saw and thought of this topic

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Oh cool. Thanks!