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Sunday Sushi

Don’t eat sushi on Sunday. I’ve heard that one for a long time, and in a way it does make sense to me. But really, mostly not. I’m a fanatic about my sushi. I’m not going to be told when I can and can not eat it, but I understand the logic behind the premise, even if its use is, often enough, faulty.

The premise is that the fish in the restaurant is no longer fresh on Sunday so it’s best avoided. It makes sense when one thinks about the procurement of the fish. In theory (and in all *good* restaurants) the itamae or owner (or both) head to the fish market every morning to bid on the day’s catch. They select the best quality fish and rush it off to the restaurant where we benefit from their expertise. These fish markets are not open on the weekends and therefore, the fish served on Saturday and Sunday is from Friday’s jaunt. I get it. This makes sense, but there are other issues at hand that many seem to overlook when taunting me after hearing that this ‘fanatic’ will still eat sushi on Sunday.

Consider that fish markets tend to operate in the coastal regions, which, on an island like Japan, is never really that far from anywhere (compared to North America and the other large continents). But that means that in cities like, say, Omaha, Nebraska, or Calgary, Alberta, there is no market to go to. Or the fish available is already not fresh anymore. Well, that just isn’t true. And it’s not like you can’t get sushi there.

Modern technologies have made the transport of foods fast, safe, and efficient. Getting a tuna from New York to Omaha is no longer the big a deal it was 25 plus years ago. Fresh sushi-grade fish is available world-wide, with little or no sacrifice to quality over the fish available at the Fulton Fish Market in New York City. In fact, some fish, such as Yellowtail (hamachi) pretty much always arrives at the sushi-ya frozen, to be thawed for later use. Health and safety issues have created regulations for restaurants to ensure the quality of their food. Sushi restaurants especially know the dangers that their offerings could pose if not stored and handled correctly. Some are obviously more attentive than others, but that is an issue for another blog entry so I won’t get into that now. Essentially, one or two days of storage no longer relegates a raw food product to the cat food industry.

All of this means that if a fish arrives on Friday, it can still be good to eat on Sunday. If it arrives frozen, which many do (since all fish has been frozen along the way anyway) then it doesn’t matter when you bought it (to a degree) and you can thaw items as needed, even on the weekends. There are actually plenty of sushi-ya where I would never eat the food on a Sunday. But I wouldn’t eat there on a Wednesday either. If you trust a restaurant and its itamae, then you can bet that they will serve high quality food any day of the week. If you have to worry about it, you should go out for fish and chips.

The sushi guy.

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3 Responses to “Sunday Sushi”

  • annatrifez says:

    i’ve heard that most restaurants always serve the more common sashimis (tuna and salmon, for instance) thawed. as in, the fish are delivered fresh frozen and thawed for later use. the reason being is that regulations stipulate that the bacteria be killed via the freezing process before serving. i assume though that the more exotic types of shashimi are served fresh. also, as a pregnant women, all the books say don’t eat sushi. my doctor, however, says that if i eat at a restaurant it should be fine as they usually serve the fresh frozen type in order to follow regulations. but don’t eat it at home, he says. plus my trusted Itamae says that in Japan they ENCOURAGE eating sushi and sashimi during pregnancy. just wanted to know your thoughts on this.

    fellow sushi fanatic

  • annatrifez says:

    oh and an additional comment… i live in madrid and practically everybody here knows NOT to shop for any seafood on mondays and tuesdays… even wednesdays, as you’ll be getting last week’s delivery. wednesdays and thursdays are the seafood delivery days and friday and saturday the best seafood buying days. just wondering if it’s the same way in your neck of the woods.

  • war3rd says:

    In the US, almost all fish is flash frozen for the reasons you mention, and it’s actually hard to find fish that hasn’t been, so as for the fish served in a sushi restaurant, you can be fairly sure that all of it was frozen at some point, and therefore the risk is how the restaurant handles its food, not necessarily issues along the way. Doctors here also suggest that women stay away from sushi during pregnancy, for the same reason they are told to stay away from raw and soft cheeses: the risk of bacterial infection. It’s mostly seen as an unnecessary risk even though the chance of a problem occurring is remote. In my experience, I have found that Americans are overly concerned with risk and potential litigation, which is one of the reasons doctors are so conservative. And in fact, eating (certain) fish during pregnancy is actually a good thing because the developing fetus requires Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in seafood. My wife ate plenty of fish during her pregnancies, both cooked and raw (and many cultures encourage this).
    And as for the Monday and Tuesday seafood shopping, I agree in a way. I would not buy fish in a store or market, however as restaurants generally thaw what then need as they need it (at least good restaurants do), and manage inventory much better than stores, I don’t worry about the fish in respectable establishments. But I definitely don’t visit the fishmonger on Monday.
    Meshi Agare!
    The sushi guy.

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