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No more Sushi !!!!!

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Just heard on the news the a European union directive has banned the use of fresh fish served raw, or nearly raw in the UK.:eek::eek::eek:

If you want to sell Sushi or Sashimi etc. the fish has to be frozen first to kill off potentially harmfull nematodes. Or you must freeze the finished product.

Is this the case is other parts of the world too?

The restaurant being filmed for the news has taken sushi off the menu as the chef couldnt bring himself to follow the directive.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #2 of 18
All fish?

The restaurant I used to work at that had a sushi bar (and a real sushi chef) always salted and froze the salmon they used. So I don't automatically think of it as a terrible thing. Especially not if the fish is frozen--and thawed-- with proper care and attention.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
I guess it mattered to this Sushi chef.

I dont know the ins and outs of the subject. I simply found the news quite sensational. Perhaps some fish is frozen anyway, bt its certainly causing contoversy
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #4 of 18
IMHO, good sushi chef actually doing us a favor using flash-frozen fish. Certain kinds are trully infested plus it stays fresher inside - trained chefs are butchering each fillet anyway looking for right texture and toss away huge part of surrounding flesh, including those parts damaged by freezing.
Also, if you make inquire, most sushi-grade fish fly away from reputable markets, like Tsukiji, being deep-frozen. That chef probably didn't want to freeze it again but I'm not sure it was the thing they required.
On the other hand, frozen scallop or surf clam at sushi bar can be a disaster
WE ARE NOT SELLING FOOD...WE ARE IMPROVING OUR CLIENT'S LIFESTYLE - HIS LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO EAT SOMETHING HE DOESN'T LIKE
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WE ARE NOT SELLING FOOD...WE ARE IMPROVING OUR CLIENT'S LIFESTYLE - HIS LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO EAT SOMETHING HE DOESN'T LIKE
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post #5 of 18
Years ago, I read that this was the case in the US, or at least in some major cities. I have since found out that it's not true as a matter of law, but it's pretty common.

The reality is that flash-frozen fish is rarely as good as fresh. There are a couple of important exceptions, the main one being tuna, which takes the deep freezing very well.

What happens to fish when it's frozen is that the texture goes south. In Japan, one of the most remarkable things for a raw fish lover upon first arriving is to discover just how different the textures of raw fish often are. Sashimi is rarely served in thin slices, though there are a few exceptions -- blowfish (fugu) for example is cut very thin indeed. The thickish slices let you get a complicated mouth feel that is distinctive to the fish and often to the cut.

One thing I started to notice in Japan was that freshness was never part of the discussion, part of the rhetoric about sashimi. In America at least, freshness is almost always equated to quality in fish: this fish is so fresh, see it has no fishy smell, it must be good. Nobody says this in Japan. Freshness is a minimum: if it's not fresh, it's not food (setting aside salted fish and stuff like that -- I'm talking about raw here). Whether it's good or not is another matter entirely. So this super-fresh fish, cut in lovely thick sashimi slices, is okay, and this same breed of fish cut the same way is terrific, and of course the former is about 1/5 the price of the latter. The difference isn't freshness: it's other kinds of quality. But once a fish has been frozen and thawed, a lot of what makes excellent fish better than decent fish goes away.

I think that if your use of raw fish is going to be restricted to what has been frozen, you have to give up on radical simplicity. Instead of serving sashimi, completely naked and just garnished to taste with soy, wasabi, sea grapes, and whatever, you've got to move into tartares, ceviches, and tataki, things that are pre-seasoned and at least coarsely chopped. That way the disadvantages of the freezing don't adversely affect quality.

What the EU needs to do, if you ask me, is institute an intensive inspection program for meats (including fish) to be served raw. That will of course crank the prices of the products through the roof, but it's available. This is in a sense the Japanese approach: if you want top quality, it's going to be expensive, so just face that in advance and know that we've done everything we can to ensure that it's worth it. Chicken can be expensive here, sometimes outrageously so, but the good stuff is incredibly flavorful and if you would like to slice it and eat it raw as chicken sashimi you can go right ahead. If there's enough demand for a given product, food scientists will work out methods of more efficient inspection or processing or whatever that will bring the price down, but they're not going to do that unless there's enough demand to fund their research. And so in time it levels out. But the EU, and even more so the US, does not want chicken to be expensive -- so our chicken is cheap and flavorless and full of salmonella. Our salmon is cheap and flavorless and often infested with parasites. It's a matter of choice: we do not have to stand for this situation, but if we want to get rid of the "flavorless and infected" part we will also get rid of the "cheap" part.

Maybe we should start eating less of better ingredients?
post #6 of 18
In the 1950's, I grew up next to a farm within the city limits of Davenport, IA.

They had chickens that were "free range" before the term was ever invented.

I seen them nail the chicken to the stump using "U-shaped" clamps, saw the startled look on the head of the chicken when they axed his head off, which didn't even begin to compare with my startled look when the chicken body took off running around aimlessly for at least 5 -10 minutes, shooting a stream of chicken blood 5' in the air.

I've smelled what the fresh chicken smelled like after dousing the body in boiling water so you could pull off the feathers.

There is just too much food to eat in the world that I'm going to even think about eating raw chicken. And I'll bet the Japanese don't have fresher chicken than what was available next door to my house in 1955.

doc
post #7 of 18
My point demonstrated very clearly. Thank you.

No, they don't have fresher chicken than you did. But fresh is not the same as good. The chicken you grew up with may have been wonderful, I'm sure it was. But if you grab a live chicken at a big processing plant in the US today and do the same thing, you still should be very wary of eating the meat. Salmonella isn't something that arises after the chicken dies, it's in the flesh to begin with. If it's got salmonella, it's got it when it's alive, chances are, and you shouldn't eat it raw. So the question is, why can't we produce chicken that doesn't have salmonella? And currently, the US FDA and DoA people and so on say that it's because salmonella is endemic to chickens and there's nothing you can do about it. Which is a flat-out lie: I have eaten raw chicken sashimi and raw chicken liver tataki in Kyoto a number of times, and I had never a qualm, because I know a certain amount about their systems and I know that the incidence of salmonella is fantastically low. Everyone eats raw eggs -- it's a popular thing to give to children and old people when they're sick, just to point out how extreme this is -- and the incidence of foodborne illness is amazingly low. How do they do it? They have systems developed to make sure that salmonella doesn't happen, and they charge the customer for their part in this system. You don't want chicken like that? Fine, you can buy cheaper if you look for it, but on the whole people want their chicken excellent and safe and will pay for the privilege. That's what I'm saying we need to create in the US and the EU: a market that says, "we'll pay a premium if it's safe and excellent, but we refuse to pay a dime for garbage." If everyone did that, the people producing garbage would change their systems, the prices of excellence and safety would drop, and we'd have a choice between medium-priced good stuff and eating beans and rice tonight, which is not a bad option. In time, it'd level out. Now, at least in the US, people have been trained to believe that meat should be cheap, safety is impossible, and every meal must have lots of meat, so the result is everyone over-cooking bad meat, which just encourages the processors to market mediocre products at low prices. That's what the market wants. I say we should insist on excellent products at fair prices, which might be high at times, and be willing to eat beans and rice and eggs when our favorite meats are too pricey.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
>Maybe we should start eating less of better ingredients? <


I really enjoyed your insight Chris and wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately, it seems, if you can afford to pay for healthy, monitored meat or fish then thats fine. If you cant, then the option is eat cheap, infested stuff or go vegetarian.

We eat what i consider top quality fish and meat, but only a 2 or 3 times a week.

Pity that in general, we have no idea what we're eating when we go out
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #9 of 18
This makes me sad, too. I believe they've done the same thing here in Spain, but I haven't seen the quality of the fish fall. THat's because I'm too poor to pay for great quality sushi in restaurants-- I have to make it at home.

I'm of a "life's too short" attitude. When I make sushi, I go to the market and buy the very freshest they have, and I don't worry about parasites. Maybe I should, but I'm not going to until I have to.

Hey, tapeworms are a weight loss tool, right?

Kidding!

-Karen
post #10 of 18
Unfortunately, the parasite worries aren't so much tapeworms. There are a lot worse things, I assure you.

You can do some research into which fish are more and less likely to be infested with parasites, which puts the odds a little more on your side. Salmon, for example, has a high parasite rate, which is why until quite recently it was rather rare in Japan to serve salmon as sashimi. I am told that mackerel has a medium infestation rate, but that the parasites in question tend to die very quickly on exposure to salt, rather like slugs, and since most mackerel is lightly salt-pickled before slicing and serving "raw" it might as well be clean. I am also told that white-fleshed fish are much less likely candidates for such infection, but I have no idea how reliable this information is -- it's experiential, anecdotal (albeit based on many years), and entirely Pacific-based.

If anyone knows of a good site to research fish types in this way, I for one would be very grateful.
post #11 of 18
I'm going to pretend I didn't see this and go happily on my way eating my sushi. ;) I'm an American living in Spain and so I still find public health to be a novelty-- perhaps I'm more eager than I should be to risk my health!

-Karen
post #12 of 18
All this talk about raw fish and parasite reminds me of a certain shark dish......

How to prepare rotten shark

MmmmMMMM
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #13 of 18
Interesting thread. I don't know where the chicken bit comes in, do people in Kyoto REALLY eat raw poultry, or were you just using that as an example? I raise my own free range birds, have never bought grocery store or butcher counter birds and would NEVER eat uncooked chicken. Regarding the fish...I knew there was a reason I didn't like raw seafood. Ceviche yeah, charred rare tuna, you betcha. Raw, I'll take a pass.
post #14 of 18
>>a good site to research fish types in this way

yes, difficult to find objective information.

fda.gov has lots and lots and lots of info - many studies, surveys, etc - it's pretty tough slogging but they do have "facts" posted, no 'editorials'

many US state sites talk about it - but mostly fresh water fish issues.

and sites which describe all fifty zillion possible 'bad actors' but only in terms of the parasite itself - no list of "here's the fish type/species, here's the potential parasites in those fish/species"

I've seen multiple apparently reliable sources that cite "there are only three common parasitic fish issues that threaten human health." okay, define common....
other apparently objective/scientific sites mention 50 'nasties you can get from raw fish.'

so 50'ish "total" - 3 (?) common-ish. not real comforting for a global community....
'it' might not be "common" in southern/northern/eastern/western USA fish sources, but with fish imported from "everywhere&anywhere" - the 'not common' could indeed be problematic.

there are many non-.edu non- .gov sites with "information" - from what I've found it's all rather biased to either: "raw fish is good" or "raw fish will kill you"

I don't trust those kinds of sites to have good info - they've spun it to their own purpose.
post #15 of 18
Yes, they do. And elsewhere in Japan, too. Raw chicken meat usually comes in one of two forms, in my experience.

1. Seared very, very briefly on the outside, then sliced, sort of the way some folks serve tuna. Dead raw inside, firm on the outside. Interesting taste and texture, remarkably like fish in the latter capacity, strangely metallic but good in the former.

2. Chopped medium-fine with spices and herbs (e.g. scallions, soy sauce), served soft and eaten with a spoon. The similarity to ceviche is considerable, granted the difference of flavors. Tastes much more like cooked chicken when served this way.

There is also raw chicken liver, served in slices. I don't care for it. It's got all the pungent flavors some people don't like about liver, plus an amazingly slimy texture that the Japanese love but I don't. The one time I had it, I had to put a lot of fresh wasabi on it to eat the second slice, because it just did not work for me. I eat almost anything, as you might guess, but the combination of metallic blood, slime, and the inbred Western phobia of raw meats just overcame me with this one.

It is common to find that restaurants will not serve raw chicken products in summer, because it's so hot and humid you worry about it rotting or something. In winter, it's pretty standard fare on the menu at a place that specializes in chicken.
post #16 of 18
I have cleaned, filet, and cooked thousands of pounds of fish per year. Some come in old and I send them back, some are wonderful. Each type of fish has different shelf life, fatty warm water, cold water, lean cold water and warm water all are different, salt water and fresh water. I can tell you that some fish last up to 3 weeks when stored correctly on ice but not wet in a 38=39 degree cooler. Cod and Sword come with worms that when you put on a sizzler under the broiler the worms come out, and yes they are alive. Freezing for 72 hours does kill many things on the fish, but not all. It also makes some species tough when they are cooked. Cod in particular becomes more chewy because the freezing breaks down the cells of the fish. This causes moisture loss therefore dry and tough.
I do not know any mandatory law here in states except for cruise ships flying all flags. All their fish must be frozen with a sworn letter stating that it was delivered frozen and was so for 72 hours prior. When I clean fish and butcher meat and chickens . I find tumors and all kinds of inside blemishes that could be defined as cancers or maybe bruises I don't know and it seems inspectors don;'t care either.:bounce:
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post #17 of 18
Oh don't complain about the worms - just means extra protein :lips:
:eek: Makes for a crispy garnish. Yecccch.

That sounds so gross, especially with the cancers and tumours.... almost (but not quite) enough to turn someone vegetarian.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #18 of 18
That's terrible! I practically live on seafood and sushi. Guess I won't be eating sashimi in the UK anytime soon.
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