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Salmon is the new Tuna

Salmon sushi has become the top choice among children, younger generations, and female sushi eaters. In the US, Salmon sushi is as popular as Tuna. Like the case with the United States, Salmon has become the popular sushi ingredients in Japan.

The rise of Salmon sushi’s popularity is due to Norway’s effort to export its vast Salmon resource to Japan. Starting in 1986, Norway’s government spent the next thirty years promoting, figuring out how the Japanese would begin eating raw Salmon.

Back then, when the Japanese thought of Salmon — Sha-ké in Japanese — they thought of cooked Salmon: salted grilled Salmon, a signature breakfast dish. Eating raw Salmon would never cross most Japanese’s minds. Then, the Norwegian government decided to change its name: Sa-Mon, as pronounced in English.

Because of the parasite, raw Salmon was unsuitable for sushi, but freezing it made it safe to eat.

Fast forward 40 years, the Norwegian government’s effort has paid off. Now when the Japanese hear Sha-ké, it’s grilled. When they hear Sa-mon, it’s sushi, sashimi, raw fish.

Here is the result of one survey done in 2022.

1. Salmon

2. Tuna

3. Chu Toro (medium tuna belly)

4. Negi Toro (Tuna belly with scallions)

5. Salmon Roe

6. Shrimp

7. O Toro (Tuna Belly)

8. Yellowtail

9. Tai Snapper/Sea Bream

10. Seared Salmon

(source: 寿司ネタランキング!みんなが好きな寿司の種類は?)

By the way, in the US, top five consumed (both non-sushi and sushi consumption) fish are:

1. Shrimp 4.6

2. Salmon 2.55

3. Canned Tuna 2.1

4. Tilapia 1.11

5. Alaska pollock 0.77

(Source: IntraFish)

Is it safe to eat salmon from the supermarket raw, as one would eat sashimi?

Now you know raw wild salmon can have parasite, thus unsuitable for raw consumption. If you want to eat the salmon at supermarket raw, then here is what to do.

1. It is labeled as sushi or sashimi grade.

Even in Japan, some fish are packed and labeled as "For cooking" and "For Raw Consumption" at supermarkets.

Sushi grade wild salmon is previously frozen to kill parasites. FDA recommendation is freezing at an ambient temperature of -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at an ambient temperature of -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours).

Some of the farm raised salmon like Ora King is parasite free, which requires no freezing.

2. If you ask and the fishmonger says it's suitable for raw consumption, then Yes.

If previously frozen and the freshness is right, then OK for raw consumption. If the fishmonger is not 100% sure, then I would walk away.

3. If there is no label to suggest raw consumption nor no one to ask, then No.

Can I buy the salmon, freeze it at home and eat it? Possibly yes, however, unless you have done this before, and or have good understanding, experience on sushi grade fish, I wouldn’t advise you to do this. The same goes with the salmon you catch from fishing.

There are too many elements to consider, and it requires actual experience of looking at a fish to be able to determine if a particular fish is suitable for raw consumption.

Some of the examples are: When was the fish caught? How long did it take the fish to be iced after it was caught? How was the fish kept after it left the boat and how was it transported, etc.

Many fishmongers and sushi chefs have an ability called "Me-Kiki" - to tell the freshness of a fish by looking at it, and it takes years of looking and sometimes tasting the fish.

So, my recommendation is to venture into purchasing salmon at the supermarket for raw consumption only if you have gained enough experience and definitely not when you only have knowledge from reading books or articles on the internet.

If you ever catch salmon, the prime time to eat (whether frozen or cooked) is five days. How should you store it? Remove the intestate, gills (or remove the head entirely), then store it on the ice.

Steelhead trout fillet look very similar to salmon fillet. What if some restaurants use steelhead trout fillet to make sushi and sell them as salmon sushi?

Technically, it should be labeled as Steelhead. or Ocean Trout.

Steelhead, also called Ocean Trout, is very similar to Salmon in looks and taste.

In fact, if Steelhead is served as salmon, most consumers wouldn’t notice it. I don’t know if I could tell if I wasn’t paying much attention. If it was labeled as Salmon, I would think it is.

I used steelhead in my sushi classes saying, it is steelhead or ocean trout. During the class, many participants started to say, “this salmon tastes good,” even though I never said it was salmon.

If steelhead and salmon look and taste similar, what is the difference?

First, it’s two different spices of fish. The confusing comes because they look almost the same outside and inside. The size is different – steelhead is slightly smaller, and tend to be more orange, or darker orange color than salmon.

Steelhead and salmon both spends their adult life in the ocean. Steelhead, is a trout that decided to live in the ocean (salt water) instead of the river (fresh water), thus, it’s “Ocean” trout. Because of this, steelhead has much deeper flavor than the trout that rives in the river.

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