Sushi-grade Salmon

Making art with sake.

5.00
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Scrumptious Sake Sashimi

Serves: N/A • Prep Time: 2 mins • Cook Time: N/A

Plentiful Poke Perfection

Serves: 2 • Prep Time: 5 mins • Cook Time: N/A

The Perfect Poke Pillar

Serves: 2 • Prep Time: 7 mins • Cook Time: 20 mins

Heaping Hand-Roll Heaven

Serves: 2 • Prep Time: 7 mins • Cook Time: 20 mins

Straight from the Forq Kitchen!
by Rachel Silver


Sushi-grade Salmon

Sushi-Grade Salmon: What Does this Really Mean?

Wait, I need to catch my breath.

The AWESOMENESS of this salmon sashimi is worthy of a moment of quiet reverence.

OK—you can keep reading now.

Raw Salmon Goodness: the Great Initiation

So, the first time I sat in a sushi restaurant, I was one-day old. (My parents are awesome.) The first time I tasted sushi, I was two, and this was the same day I declared sushi to be my favorite food. Not in so many developed words, of course, but the sentiment was sincere and remains true to this day.

My palate for sake (raw salmon) took longer to develop. I began to cultivate what would become an obsession with sake much later, after I’d left home. I suppose, in principle, it kind of freaked me out because of its foreignness and slightly wobbly, meaty texture—though the absurdity of being reticent to try raw salmon when I was in love with sushi is abundantly clear to me. And so it was a fateful day, two years ago, when I threw caution to the wind and gave sake another shot. My mouth had a tiny (not so tiny) food-orgasm. (Am I allowed to say that?)

Perhaps it was getting crazy with the lemon that did it for me this time around. If you’ve never tried sake with squeezed lemon, close the computer, go to your favorite sushi place, and get squeezing! I’m not going anywhere.

A little part of me dies inside when I think about all those wasted years spent not eating sake/raw salmon. So I can’t think of anything better, or more redeeming, than to experiment with you over the best ways to prepare sake/raw salmon. Any way you cut it (!!!), sake is glorious.

And all preparations are glorious: sashimi, nigiri, poke, temaki, and onigiri—prepared plain, marinated, squeezed with lemon, and smothered with avocado and cucumber. I like it all.

Please forgive the purist in me, but when it comes to sushi, simple is best. The flavors of raw fish, especially sake, hold their own.

Sushi-grade Salmon: the Skinny

Before I get to The Cooking (which necessarily stands in the way of The Eating), I need to buy some salmon. Sadly, I know nothing about buying sushi-grade salmon. Why is it that I will pay good money to eat some types of raw fish (sushi!), while other kinds (the fish I’d slap on my barbecue) evoke the eebeegeebees and a strong urge to disinfect my kitchen? Does any species of salmon work? Does the cut matter? Is “sushi-grade” just a scam to get shoppers to fork over (…I crack myself up) more money? Enter my local fishmonger, who graciously gave me the low down.

“Sushi-grade” is a marketing term—in the sense that there is no clear definition or regulation differentiating sushi-grade fish from other raw fish. “Sushi-grade” fish tends to be higher quality because of the freezing method employed to kill parasites, and this seems to make it safe to eat raw—unlike most other raw fish options in the grocery store. So “sushi-grade” does denote a fish treated to a different standards, and likely parasite-free. But again—in the U.S. the term is unregulated by the FDA, and therefore unenforced.
(https://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/_file/aglaw/Publications_Library/Roll_Sushi_Roll-Defining_Sushi_Grade_for_the_Consumer_and_the_Sushi_Bar.pdf)

Let’s back up—did I just say there are no regulations for the term ‘sushi-grade?!’ Correct. While this may seem unsettling, suppliers and distributors don’t want to make their consumers ill, so most often their “sushi-grade” fish is the freshest they can offer. “Fresh” has two meanings in the fish world: fresh can refer to the newest fish offered or to fish that has not been frozen. In the case of sushi-grade salmon, “fresh” only refers to the newest fish offered because sushi-grade salmon is previously frozen to kill parasites and ensure safe consumption.

Although the FDA (or any other agencies) does not regulate the term ‘sushi-grade,’ it provides a Food Code that recommends certain freezing temperatures for killing parasites. So though the term is not regulated, the product itself (fish intended for raw consumption) is. The parasite destruction guarantee is accomplished by three options: freezing and storing fish at -4°F for 7 days (168 hours), freezing and storing fish at -31°F for 15 hours, or freezing fish at -31°F and storing it at -4°F for 24 hours.
(http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/ucm186451.htm)

You should feel confident that when you buy sushi-grade salmon, you are getting fresh (new), high quality (no parasites), ok-to-eat-raw salmon!

Enough talk. I want to get this food prepped and plated!

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Artistic License: the Tasty Part

Please forgive the purist in me, but when it comes to sushi, simple is best. The flavors of raw fish, especially sake, hold their own. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun! Today I present four delicious sake/raw salmon recipes.

Join me on this food odyssey. Cue montage music!

Every chef’s secret weapon is a sharp knife. Whether you’re slicing or dicing, this is a must for cutting sushi.

When going for plain sake sashimi, ITS ALL ABOUT THE LEMON. Speaking of lemon, what’s that expression about life giving you lemons?

Screw the lemonade. Squeeze those babies on your sashimi!

The subtle flavors of these recipes are what make them delectable. I don’t want to overpower the fish, but I don’t want to be boring. Go with your gut. And don’t be afraid to experiment.

Salmon perfectionists may frown at what I’m about to say: if you don’t like the taste of your marinade, just rinse it off and start over! (Please don’t hate me.)

Want a more filling entrée? Put that poke on some rice to make it a complete meal!

I’m a sucker for tobiko. More. Tobiko. Now.

Or throw that poke in a hand-roll for a traditional appetizer.

Sexy.

The presentation of sushi is a foodie’s dream. I claim to be no expert, but I did have fun pretending.

Directions

Here’s how to make these delicious recipes

Scrumptious Sake Sashimi

Rinse sake and pat dry.

Slice 1/4 lb slab of sake into strips. Place on plate; squeeze fresh lemon juice onto sake strips.

Sushi_grade_1

Slice 1/4 lb slab of sake into strips

Enjoy!

Plentiful Poke Perfection

Rinse sake and pat dry.

Cut sake into cubes.

In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, orange juice, grated ginger, and most of the lime. If some lime pulp gets squeezed out, it is delicious so don’t worry! Toss the salmon in the mixture, let stand for one minute, and drain—keep the mixture.

In a small saucepan, heat the sesame seed oil until sizzling. Drizzle the heated oil over the salmon cubes, spoon 1 T of the soy sauce mixture on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds, chili flakes, and chives. Toss.

Sushi_grade_5

Drizzle the heated oil over the salmon cubes, spoon 1 T of the soy sauce mixture on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds, chili flakes, and chives. Toss.

Place on plate, squeeze on some more lime (if like me you love citrus!) and serve.

The Perfect Poke Pillar

Prepare poke as instructed above.

Cook sushi rice as instructed on package. In a small bowl mix rice vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt together, then microwave for 30-45 seconds. After your rice is done, pour the rice vinegar mixture on top. Be gentle not to smash the rice as you evenly coat it with the mixture.

Pack half the rice in a 1/2 C. On a plate, tap the formed rice out of the 1/2 C and reshape as needed. Cover the surface of the rice with half the tobiko (I used my fingers for this part). Place half the poke on top of the rice disk, and finish with the chive garnish.

Sushi_grade_6

Place half the poke on top of the rice disk, and finish with the chive garnish

Repeat for your second pillar.

Serve!

Heaping Hand-Roll Heaven

Prepare poke as instructed above.

Cook sushi rice as instructed on package. In a small bowl mix rice vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt together, then microwave for 30-45 seconds. After your rice is done, pour the rice vinegar mixture on top. Be gentle not to smash the rice as you evenly coat it with the mixture.

Fold your nori sheet in half, pressing down on crease, and cutting the two halves apart. Take a nori sheet half and spoon a layer of rice on the left third of the nori.

Salmon_skin_4

Take a nori sheet half and spoon a layer of rice on the left third of the nori

Sprinkle rice with furikake. Place half the avocado, cucumber (or any other fillings: radish sprouts, pickled carrots, more!), and poke vertically across the rice. Roll into a cone shape—start with the bottom left corner and roll to the right. To close the cone, place a dot of rice on the remaining corner, lightly press corner into the cone, hold for a few seconds, and the cone should be glued shut. Repeat for your second hand roll!

Dōzo omeshi agari kudasai!

Ingredients

Scrumptious Sake Sashimi

  • 1/4 sushi-grade salmon
  • Juice from 1/8-1/4 lemon

Plentiful Poke Perfection

  • 1/2 lb sushi-grade salmon
  • 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh orange juice
  • Juice from 1/4 lime
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives

The Perfect Poke Pillar

  • 1/2 lb sushi-grade salmon
  • 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh orange juice
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives plus a couple long slices for garnish
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seeds
  • Sprinkle of chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup uncooked sushi or short grain rice
  • Water
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp tobiko

Heaping Hand-Roll Heaven

  • 1/2 lb sushi-grade salmon
  • 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh orange juice
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives plus a couple long slices for garnish
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seeds
  • Sprinkle of chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup uncooked sushi or short grain rice
  • Water
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Nori Sheet
  • 4 slices of avocado
  • 6 slices of cucumber
  • Sprinkle of Seto Fumi Furikake rice seasoning

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Who’s Cooking Today

Rachel Silver

Rachel Zoë Silver, a recent Cal Berkeley graduate, has been a foodie since her first sushi at three years old. With heritage from the Pacific Northwest, she learned early how to select the best fish from the Pike Place market. Her parents, also cooks and foodies, schlepped her to the best restaurants up and down the West Coast and through Italy. Rachel was still missing her front teeth when she mastered her grandmother’s Apple Pie recipe. She is still as excited by food as she was when, at 18 months, discovered on the pantry floor, hands and face smeared brown, she declared, “Chocolate is Yum!”

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Making art with sake.

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