We all know how important the rice is, but what about the fish?
Sourcing Sushi Grade Fish
If you read the “About Aaron” post on this site then you know I have been making my own sushi for about 20 years. When I first started out, the most difficult thing was finding sushi grade fish.
There was one restaurant in Salt Lake City that also had a little counter where they would sell fresh raw sushi grade fish, and that was my go to place for the first few years.
There were several problems with this however. First, they only carried salmon and yellow fin tuna. I really like both of those fish but after a while I find myself wanting a little variety.
Second, their prices were pretty high which made me feel like bagging the idea of making my own sushi and just going out to my favorite sushi bar. Of course that would defeat the purpose. What to do?
My Prayers Were Answered!
I was still constantly on the lookout for anywhere that I could get sushi grade fish. I started to hear from different sushi chefs and other commercial seafood suppliers that there was talk of a retail fish store opening soon. I did my due diligence and stayed on top of the rumors. It was about a 6-month wait but it finally happened.
The shop is called Aquarius Fish in downtown Salt Lake City. Dan, the owner and I became fast friends. I also got pretty close to the guys working the counter.
This is something you will want to do if you find a market that has suitable fish for sushi. The reason I say that is they usually treat you better if they know and like you. I have even taken them a pizza for lunch and that went a long way.
So, Where To Buy Sushi Grade Fish?
You may already have a market in mind or may even shop there now, and that is great. But if not you may need to go on a quest. Honestly when I first started making my own sushi it was hard to find things online as few of these type of stores had a website (boy that really dates me). Now however you have the world at your finger tips.
So of course the best place to start is to do a google search in your area for fresh fish markets. Even if you do find one or more that does not necessarily mean that it will be a good one. You will need to scope it out in person and see what they have and the level of quality that they maintain. So what are the things you should look for?
Your First Trip To The Market
I have to tell you that the first time I set foot in what is now my go to place to buy fish, I was giddy. I felt like I was five and had been handed the key to a candy store. Fortunately over the years they have not disappointed me. So now you have found a promising place on google and you begin your quest.
The moment you step into the market, depending on the size and layout, should give you your first clue: Does it smell like fish? That may seem to be an odd question since that is why you are there in the first place, but it is not.
You see, other than the fact that it may smell a “little” fishy, it should not have a STRONG smell of fish. Why not?
That question takes me back to my very beginnings with sushi. I had the misconception that raw fish was going to taste and smell fishy, boy was I wrong.
Now there are a few species of fish that are a little fishier than others such as mackerel, but for the most part fresh fish has a fresh smell, not a fishy one. Think ocean mist, not seaweed. If they pass that test, then its on to the next step. Look the fish over very carefully and also ask when it was brought in.
If the fish was brought in whole and is kept properly then it should last a few days. I personally like to get fish that has shown up that day if at all possible. I’m a little bit of a snob that way, but after all you are about to pay a premium price for sushi grade fish and you want your money’s worth, right?
Another thing to be on the lookout for is the smell of bleach, yup sometimes in an attempt to sell fish past it’s prime they will bleach it to take the fishy smell away. I know, you just threw up a little in your mouth right?
It is pretty disgusting that some shops would do that but they do. As with anything you can usually tell how fresh it is by looking at it, if it looks good and smells good and they say that it is fresh, then it probably is.
What To Do Now?
That seems kind of obvious, go home and make sushi! Hold on, there are a few things that might seem kind of duh at this point but I am going to include them anyway.
First thing is, take some kind of cooler and cold packs or ice. The shop I go to has ice there and most good ones will. They will give you a bag of ice to keep your fish cool.
Also, if you are going to be doing any other shopping do it first, try to make the fish stop the last one, so you can keep the fish as fresh as possible. I hope this helps answer the question of where to buy sushi grade fish.
By the way if you can’t find a suitable market to buy sushi grade fish, try these guys: www.GiovannisFishMarket.com and use discount code: STICH20 for 20% off.
I hope you find that nice little shop like I did to buy sushi grade fish.