Part 1: Nijiya Market
If you live in the City (San Francisco, that is), the best retail place for you to get Sushi & Sashimi fish is Nijiya Market in Japan Town, located on Sutter and Webster, just under the bridge in Japan Town Mall.
The store is rather small, with narrow aisles compared to other supermarket chains like Safeway and Wholefoods, and the entire store is packed with Japanese groceries. You can get pretty much everything you need to make Sushi at home.
Since getting Sushi and Sashimi fish is the biggest hurdle for most of our sushi class attendees, we thought to guide you through in this article so that you know what to look for and how to look for in the fish.
Nijiya Market, 1737 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115, 10AM-8PM
(They have stores throughout California)
Fish section is located all the way back to the store. After you enter through the front entrance on Sutter Street, walk all the way back, and on your left, you will find refrigerated individually packed fish there.
(photo by Tiffany P., yelp)
2. What should I look for?
Sushi & Sashimi fish has a label that says, "Sashimi." As you can see in the pictures below, "Sashimi Salmon," "Sahimi Tuna" is what you want to buy. They are "Saku" blocks, so you can cut sashimi, or slice for nigiri, or rolls at home.
Be aware that Nijiya does sell Non-Sashimi Salmon. They are located right to the Sashimi fish, and the label will say just, "Salmon." If the label does not have "Sashimi" written on it, it's for cooked consumption, NOT raw consumption.
If you are every confused as to which one to buy for Sushi & Sahimi, the best approach is to ask someone at Nijiya and tell them you are looking to for Sushi & Sashimi fish.
3. Type of fish they have (availability may change, depending on the season)
Tuna, Salmon, Hamachi, Uni, Tako, Scallops, Katsuo(Bonito, Skipjack), Kanpachi(Amberjack), Aji (Spanish Mackerel), Ikura, Ebi, Ama Ebi, Hokki, Mirugai (Giant Clam), Unagi (Eel), Shime Saba(Cured Mackerel), Ika (Squid), Tai (Red Snapper), Hirame
Ama Ebi, Sweet Shrimp
Ebi, Hokki, Izumi Dai
Shime Sabe, Cured Mackerel
Unagi, Fresh Water Eel
4. Sign of fresh fish
First of all, not all fish tastes the best when it's fresh, like off-the-boat kind of fresh. For example, Tuna needs at least five days to up to two weeks of resting or aging before its prime. Salmon, five days. When it comes to Hirame/Halibut, at least week and two weeks. If it's caught on the same day, Hirame is not eatable - chewy and no flavor. However, if it's fresh local Albacore (in California), they are fantastic when it's just off the boat.
That being said, looking for a fresh fish is just like looking for a fresh tomato. What would you look for in a fresh tomato? Color, firmness, shiny texture and skin. These are the same qualities you want in a fresh fish. A fresh tuna has very nice translucent red to dark red color, firm because it retains water in its flesh and shiny. The older it gets, it will start to lose water, and you will see so-called red "drips" in the package. The color will become "muddy" or dull.
5. When to buy and eat our fish
It's best to consume the fish the same day you purchased them. They should last in your refrigerator at least day or two, and after that, you should either freeze them or cook them. The best way to keep the fish is on ice, tightly packed or sealed with plastic wrap, to keep the oxygen out. If it's tuna, wrap it with a paper towel and plastic wrap.
Well that's it. Hope you make a trip to Nijiya, buy fish and make enjoy Sashimi or Sushi at home!