How To Choose The Right Fish Meat For Your Sushi?

The list of meat that you can wrap inside becomes more prolonged, but you must know how to choose the right meat for your sushi. This traditional Japanese food has become popular worldwide; no wonder many sushi-lovers and restaurant owners have been adding it to their list. If you want to be an expert making one, start first by learning how to look for sushi-grade fish meat.

How To Choose The Right Fish Meat For Your Sushi

Whether making sushi home or for your consumers, here are some of the best kinds of fish meat that you can use. 

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Yellowtail
  • Mackerel
  • Seabass
  • Snapper

Since most sushi or sashimi includes raw seafood ingredients, you should know how to choose the right fish meat. More importantly, you must understand how to keep it fresh and other proper food-safety precautions to create good sushi. This way, you can also minimize the risks of foodborne illnesses associated with eating raw fish. So, let’s start your journey towards becoming an expert “itamae” or sushi chef.

What Are The Right Fish Meat For Your Sushi?

Regardless of the kind of sushi you want to make, here are some of the most classic raw fish you can add to every roll.


A top pick for most sushi makers and lovers is tuna. You can go with any tuna, including bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, bonito, and albacore. You can also find a few rarer ones.


While it is popular and widely used for sushi, this particular fish meat has high issues for parasites. Therefore, you must freeze it properly before consuming it. This way, you can kill all bacteria and parasites that can cause illness.

Clams, Scallops, and Abalone

Such mollusks are prevalent alternatives when it comes to making sushi. However, you’ll want to avoid oysters because it does not go well with sushi rice, even though they are delicious raw.


It is a form of jackfish known in Japanese as hamachi. Like tuna, it is a favorite raw fish for many individuals.

Halibut or Flounder

On the sushi menu, the English names of these fish do not appear. However, some people call these fish species as hirame in the sushi language.


Although it’s popular in sushi, you usually need to flash-cooked squid for a few seconds rather than served fresh. It is one way to make sure that this fish meat is safe for consumption.

Gizzard Shad

In certain circles, the Japanese call baitfish as kohada. While it has a very fishy smell, it is not in the wrong way.


In Japanese, called saba or aji, all kinds of mackerel make excellent choices when making sushi. Before serving, sushi makers often treat the mackerel with vinegar.

Seabass, Porgies, and Snapper

Seabass, Porgies, and Snappers are other options when it comes to making sushi. However, you also have to treat it with vinegar before serving. This way, you can make sure that it is still fresh before consumption.

Tasty Seafood Variations

Other types of seafood commonly used in sushi dishes are lobster, shrimp, and eel. Feel free to ask us some questions about the fish we serve that you have. There’s never a heavy fish scent in high-quality fresh sushi, and that’s the kind of sushi you get from poorly made sushi.

Factors To Consider In Choosing The Right Fish Meat For Your Sushi?

‘Sushi-grade’ fish is the term given to fish that demonstrates that raw preparation and eating is healthy. To make one, the fish is easily captured, bled upon capture, gutted shortly afterward, and thoroughly iced. It will destroy any parasites, which will make the fish healthy to eat. In making sushi, you must choose the right fish meat for your sushi. For short, you should always get sushi-grade fish meat

Potential Parasites

When you eat raw fish meat, parasites are a fact of life. It was one reason why humans decided thousands of years ago to start cooking their food. Cod worms, seal worms, and tapeworms are the critters you need to worry about. There are cod worms in cod, haddock, pollock, and hake. They are readily visible to the naked eye and, if you catch them, you can remove it effortlessly.

For salmon, mackerel, Pacific rockfish, jacksmelt, some halibut, and other flounders, seal worms are common. It’s why the sushi chef treats mackerel during preparation with vinegar. When you consume it accidentally, these parasites usually move right through your bloodstream if you eat one, and you will never know it.

They will sometimes attach themselves to your stomach successfully, causing nausea and abdominal pain. Soon enough, they will die, but not before being unpleasant.

Tapeworms are nastier by far. It can live within people and can grow to 20 feet long inside of you. Skip the walleye sashimi unless it comes from a reliable farm. You can kill these parasites by heat and extreme cold. Therefore, it is ideal that you freeze all raw seafood that you decide to eat. This way, it is simply more secure. In most instances, fresh is better, but even professional sushi chefs first freeze their fish meat to kill parasites.


Freshness is another crucial factor in eating raw fish. Sushi-grade fish are quickly caught, bled upon capture, gutted soon after that, and thoroughly iced. This technique matters a lot if you want to eat good sushi.


Color is not a direct indication of the fish meat’s freshness as many farms use coloring processes to make their fish look more attractive. It doesn’t have to mean that the bright red color of tuna sometimes found in a fish store is fresher than the chocolatey-brown tuna. It merely means that it went through a process called ‘cold smoking.’ It is a process that exposes the tune to carbon monoxide to create a red finish.

The same applies to bright pink or orange salmon, which could result from being in their fish food with food coloring pellets. Be careful not to have these processes done to mask older-than-should-be fish. Avoid any with broken shells when purchasing shelled fish, as they can begin to spoil quickly once broken.

How To Buy Sushi Grade Fish?

A few aspects to consider when purchasing sushi-grade fish to ensure the product is fresh and safe to consume. You’ll want to make sure that a trusted fishmonger or market has a good reputation. It might mean asking neighboring restaurants which they are using and looking up online reviews.

The location should receive regular shipments and have experienced employees. While you’re there, be sure to ask the right questions, such as the following.

  • Where did the fish originate from?
  • How long was it in the shop?
  • How frequently is the machinery used to process the fish sanitized?

You will also want to get acquainted with the fish species you are buying and the characteristics of fresh seafood. Make sure to include the following aspects.

  • Smells of the fish meat
  • Clear and slightly bulged eyes
  • Red gills
  • Firm flesh
  • Intact scales
  • Not slimy

Fresh Fish and Shrimp

Buy only refrigerated or displayed fish on a thick bed of fresh ice, preferably in a case or under cover of some kind. Since several factors, including diet, environment, treatment with a color fixative such as carbon monoxide or other packaging processes can affect a fish’s color. When making purchasing decisions, the following tips may greatly help you.

  • The smell of fish should be fresh and mild, not fishy, sour, or like ammonia.
  • The eyes of a fish ought to be clear and shiny.
  • Whole fish with no odor should have firm flesh and red gills. There should be firm flesh and red bloodlines in fresh fillets, or red flesh if there is fresh tuna. The flesh, when pressed should spring back.
  • Fish fillets should show no discoloration around the edges, darkening, or drying.
  • With a pearl-like color and little or no odor, the shrimp, scallop, and lobster flesh should be clear.
  • Some refrigerated seafood may have time or temperature indicators in their packaging, showing whether the seller stored the fish at the correct temperature. If the indicator indicates that the item is safe to eat, check the indicators when they are present, and only purchase the seafood.
  • Fresh fish and fish fillets sold as ‘Previously Frozen’ may not have all the fresh fish characteristics. It includes bright eyes, firm flesh, red gills, flesh, or bloodlines. However, they should still smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour, or rotten.

Selecting Shellfish

When you decide to add shellfish meat to your sushi roll, here are some general guidelines that you can follow.

  • Look for the label – Look for tags on live shellfish sacks or containers (in the shell) and labels on shellfish containers or packages. These tags and labels contain specific product information, including a certification number for the processor. It implies that shellfish have been harvested and processed in compliance with national safety controls for shellfish.
  • Discard Cracked Or Broken Ones – If their shells are cracked or broken, don’t buy clams, oysters, and mussels.
  • Do a “Tap Test” – When you tap the shell, it usually closes. It is typical for live clams, oysters, and mussels. Do not select them if they do not close when tapped.
  • Check for Leg Movement – Live crabs and lobsters should demonstrate some leg movement. After death, they spoil quickly, so only live crabs and lobsters should be selected and prepared.

Selecting Frozen Seafood

If the fish thaws during transport and is left in warm temperatures for too long before cooking, frozen seafood can spoil.

  • If you see that the package is open, torn, or crushed on the edges, do not buy frozen seafood.
  • Avoid containers that show signs of frost or ice crystals, which may mean that fish have been stored for a long time or that they have been thawed and refrozen.
  • Avoid packets that are not hard on the “frozen” fish flesh. The fish ought not to be bendable.


It may come as a shock that the word “sushi-grade fish” does not necessarily have rules to be followed. So you may want to ask the vendor how they define the term next time you see a sushi-grade certification.

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