Can You Make Sushi From Frozen Salmon?

Can You Make Sushi From Frozen Salmon?

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Last night, I invited a few friends for dinner and used frozen salmon to make delicious homemade sushi. It came out wonderful and they couldn’t stop telling me how fresh and delicious the raw fish tasted. My friends were further amused when I told them this was frozen salmon I bought from a trusted local fish seller.

I realized there are many people like them who wonder ‘can you make sushi from frozen salmon’. I would like to tell you that Yes, if you want to make sushi with raw fish in the traditional Japanese style, you can get frozen salmon from a trusted fishmonger in your area.

Buy sushi-grade salmon from a reliable seller who knows the right way of handling fish that is intended to be eaten raw. Freezing salmon immediately after catching the fish is important to prevent the growth of parasites in the flesh. It also keeps preserves the freshness of the fish for 6-9 months.

Freezing fish is an extremely important step to ensure that your health is not put at risk. As a result, I always prefer and also advise others to buy frozen salmon from trusted sellers who know what is a sushi-grade fish.


What Is The Right Temperature For Freezing Salmon

The effectiveness of ‘freezing technique’ to kill parasites as tapeworm and roundworms depend upon the period of time the fish is kept frozen. As per FDA’s regulations, salmon should be stored at a temperature of -4°F (-20°C) or less for at least 7 days to kill all parasites.

Alternatively, you may freeze at a temperature of -31°F (-35°C) or even less for at least 15 hours to kill the parasites and bacteria. For large and thicker salmon, you may need to store a bit longer. Fish once caught and out of the sea is immediately flash frozen and the temperature is maintained throughout logistics.

According to Jon Rowley, a popular fish missionary, frozen fish is better than 95% of fresh fish available in the market because fresh fish goes through diverse temperature and handling conditions. As a result, the best sushi bars use frozen fish to maintain consistency in quality.

Is Frozen Salmon As Good As Fresh?

Yes, if frozen in the right way, it can be better at times. The Alaska seafood industry, for example, has mastered the freezing technique to keep the fresh flavor, texture, and color of Alaska salmon intact. Frozen salmon from Alaska is available throughout the year and stored controlled conditions.

Freezing the salmon after catching them reduces shrinkage, and this keeps the profit margin high for restaurants. The frozen items when stored properly can retain their quality for a long period of time until they are thawed.

The wild Alaskan salmon when thawed properly can give you an unparalleled sushi experience. The biggest challenge is to maintain constant frozen temperature throughout shipping, even when the fish is filleted, or else it may turn soft and smelly.

The best way to tell the quality of frozen salmon is by smelling it, touching it and looking at it. If the fish smells putrid then it’s probably not sushi-grade. If the skin feels slimy when touched, it is not good enough to consume raw. If the eyes of the fish look milky, you must give it a pass.

How Long Can You Keep Salmon Keep In The Freezer?

If you are planning to make salmon sushi at home, I would recommend that you buy sushi-grade fish and use it immediately. You can wrap salmon in a plastic and keep it in the freezer for two days. But, what if you need to keep the fish for a bit longer.

You may increase the shelf life of the fish for 2-4 months by keeping it in the freezer. However, you must store it carefully. To freeze salmon at home, you need to wet salmon, wrap the fish in plastic and aluminum foil. Squeeze out excess air from inside and seal the package.

Salmon needs to be frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius), however, it is difficult to maintain this temperature in your home freezer. To get as close as possible, store the fish at the back side of the freezer unit against the wall so that it does not get affected by warm air when you open the freezer door.

If you buy pre-frozen salmon from the farmer’s market or supermarket, you may store it in your home freezer for up to six months.

How To Thaw or Defrost Frozen Salmon

So, you are ready to make delicious salmon sushi at home. For this, you will first need to remove the frozen salmon from the freezer and thaw it the night before. Just unwrap the plastic wrap and put the salmon on a dish, cover it and place inside the refrigerator for 24 hours.

If you are in a hurry and wish to defrost quickly, submerge the fish inside cool water for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Make sure you do not thaw salmon at room temperature as this could create a breeding ground for parasites on the outer parts while the middle section remains frozen.

How To Freeze The Salmon You Caught

If you went fishing and got a prize catch, there cannot be anything better than boasting about how you caught the fish used in the sushi. However, you need to first freeze your catch correctly. To do so, first cut off the head and tail section. Wrap in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag and put inside the freezer.

You must avoid storing fish without gutting it as this may lead to freezer burn. This will also make it difficult to use the fish for your recipes when you are ready to. Another common mistake to avoid is microwaving your fish to thaw it as this can also damage the quality of frozen fish.

Related article: Different Ways On How To Tell If Sushi Is Fresh

5 Tips For Buying Frozen Salmon For Making Sushi

If you are planning to make sushi for dinner, you will need to buy the sushi-grade salmon from your trusted fishmonger. The reason why I stress upon ‘trusted’ or‘reliable’ fish seller is that the quality of fish depends a lot upon how quickly it was frozen and handled after taking out of the sea.

There is no fish that cannot be frozen at its freshness peak when it’s pulled out of the sea, but the fishermen and other middlemen should handle the fish carefully throughout the shipment until it reaches the store. You should always buy frozen salmon from a fish seller who knows the importance of sushi-grade fish.

Here are a few important things that you need to look into when buying frozen salmon to make sushi at home.

1. Look at the labels

Request your fish seller to let you take a look at the labels before buying the fish because they give you enough hint of the starting point and the process followed for storing. It gives you a rough idea on the network that brings the fish from the sea to your plate.

2. Check out the geographical data

If you are buying frozen fish from a retail store, look at the geographical data printed on the package. This gives you an idea of where the salmon was caught from so that you know you are buying responsibly without hampering future stocks.

I would recommend that you always buy local frozen fish if your location permits you. If not, always trust frozen fish from Alaska, Gulf of Maine, or the Gulf of Mexico.

3. Get familiar with the acronyms

If you love making salmon sushi or other delicacies that use salmon, then it pays to know the different options available in the frozen seafood world. You must know the difference between products that are labeled as Individually Quick-Frozen (IQF) and Frozen at Sea (FAS).

The IQ Flabel refers to fish that has been quickly frozen with a coat of water top reserve the freshness of the fish. The ‘quick’ in IQF means the fish was frozen in just a few minutes or hours after being pulled out of the water.

When using IQF grade salmon for making sushi, you must look for signs of freezer burn, clumping of the flesh, or ice crystals. All these are signs that the fish has been thawed and then re-frozen somewhere along the supply chain.

FAS labels refer to fish that has been filleted and frozen in the boas itself. That’s the perfect scenario where the freshness is locked at its best until you are ready to consume it. At times, FAS fish may be frozen whole at a factory ship, then thawed and filleted at a plant.

4. Check for signs of damage

When buying frozen salmon in a supermarket or retail store, make sure the package is not open, torn, or damaged. If you see any signs of damage, you must avoid buying that package. Also, remember that the frozen flesh should be hard to touch. If it is soft and mushy, the frozen fish has not been handled properly.

5. Look for storage details

Frozen salmon will have details about the specific temperature at which the fish had been stored. You must look for the information on the package and always buy products that have this information as a proof that it is safe to use in sushi

Related Article: 10 Sushi Recipes With Salmon

Related Questions

What is flash freezing?

Wild salmon should be frozen immediately after it is pulled out of the sea. However, some species of fish may get spoiled if you freeze them too quickly. The ideal temperature for freezing is -4 F for 7 days or -35 F for 15 hours. If you take two pieces of Salmon and strike them together after freezing, they should sound like glass.

Can I get fresh salmon?

The term‘fresh’ is usually meaning less and often used as a way of marketing the fish. The freshest salmon you can get is if you catch one or get one straight from the boat and eat it within an hour.

What is meant by sushi-grade salmon?

The marketers often choose to label salmon packages as sushi-grade to indicate that it can be consumed raw. Salmon, tuna and other species of fish used for sushi are flash frozen to kill parasites so that they can be safe to eat raw.

What does ‘color-added’ mentioned in the package indicate?

This term refers to the farmed salmon. Wild salmon usually get their natural color from the carotenoids present in underwater algae and plants. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, get their hue from pigments added to their food.

What is the shelf life of salmon after it is thawed

If you keep thawed salmon refrigerated at a temperature of 38 F or less, it can stay good for 5-7 days. However, please bear in mind that the fish starts losing its quality once it is thawed. If you want to eat raw salmon in sushi, I would suggest that you thaw only as much as you can consume immediately.

The Final Words

Making salmon sushi at home can be a fun and rewarding experience. If you are wary about raw fish then there’s nothing to worry about as long as you buy frozen salmon from a trusted fish seller. Always ask for sushi-grade fish because these fish are handled for special care as they are intended to be eaten raw.

Once at home, put frozen salmon at your home freezer and thaw it properly before making sushi. Look at the various signs of smell, look, and feel as mentioned above totell whether or not the frozen fish is good for making sushi.

There are few things in the world that taste as good as soft and succulent salmon over a crust of sushi rice and nori.  Try out the different sushi recipes but make sure you prepare only as much you can consume at a time because leftover sushi does not taste good if stored in the fridge. 

See Also:
Chirashi vs Sashimi Detailed explanation
Does Japan Have California Rolls?
Does Sushi Have Carbs?


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