How To Choose The Freshest Fish For Sushi, By Chef Naoki

Chef Naoki has fond memories of his first job at a Japanese fish market.  We asked him to share some of his tips and tricks when selecting the very freshest fish for your home.

First and foremost, your nose will tell you the truth!

Most importantly, a fresh fish will smell slightly salty, like the sea and never have a musty or “fishy” smell. Once the sniff test is complete, take a moment to look your fish right in the eye.  A fresh fish will have eyes that are a bright, clear, moist and plump.  A grey or cloudy eye is a sure sign that the fish is past its prime.

chef cutting large piece of raw tuna

Next, how about those gills?

Chef Naoki explains the importance of checking the gills for color and clarity.  When a fish is first caught, the gills are bright red with a clean feeling. As time goes on, the gills turn brownish-red and become slimy.  Damaged scales or broken gills could represent mishandling of the fish.

How does the flesh feel?

Finally, if the fish monger will allow it, gently touch and poke the flesh.  A fresh fish will feel cool, wet and slippery – never sticky.  The fish’s skin should bounce back with the same buoyancy as your own.  If it doesn’t, it means that the fish has softened and will not be worthy of your recipe.

Chef Naoki’s shared his favorite “work perk” from the fish market – the pleasure of sampling a different fish each day  as his employee meal. His favorite fish is any from the Mackerel (saba) family because of the unique and exceptional flavor. Try the very special mackerel, yuzu kosho, ponzu sheet sashimi, next time your visit.

mackerel sushi on plate

Make a reservation for dinner here.

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