When it comes to things we can’t live without, delicious sushi is definitely up there. Seriously, if it were up to us, we’d be rocking sushi-prints and nail art 24/7 because our love is real. And we’re sure many of you appreciate good sushi, too. But what constitutes “good sushi,” and how can you tell if your sushi is fresh?
Sushi has become a quick go-to meal option, from tempura and teriyaki to sashimi, nigiri, and more deliciously complex traditional dishes. And yes, sushi has also gone mainstream. However, when you’re buying mostly raw fish and cold rice that is often found in pre-prepared boxes, things can get pretty questionable, pretty quickly.
We know it’s not possible to completely avoid subpar fish, but there are a few things you can check for to make sure your sushi dishes are at their freshest.
1. The smell
One good way to tell if your sushi is fresh is the smell. As in, there shouldn’t be one. Fresh fish should have no smell at all, and neither should the restaurant. A clean and odorless shop is always a good clue that the staff cares about food safety and quality. But if there has to be a smell, world-famous sushi chef Hidekazu Tojo says, “a good sushi restaurant should smell like cucumber or watermelon.”
2. The look
Take a second to check out the flesh of the fish. It should be shiny, translucent, and free from any milky slime. Dull looking, slimy fish are major signs your sushi is off. The whiteness of the rice and the crispness of the nori (seaweed) can also be indications of freshness.
When it comes to tuna, sushi expert Trevor Corson says looks can be deceiving, as it is common practice in the industry to gas tuna with carbon monoxide to make it look pink. Which means the pinkness is not an indication of freshness. If the tuna looks like it is turning brown around the edges, you might want to opt for the vegetable roll.
3. The feel
The flesh of fresh fish should be firm enough to spring back when pressed. Be sure to check to see if your sushi meets this criteria before consuming.
4. The taste
What taste? If your sushi didn’t pass the smell, look, and feel tests…there is absolutely no way you should be tasting it. Unless food poisoning is your thing.
Additionally, if your sushi is pre-packaged be sure to check the expiration dates and don’t be afraid to ask the staff exactly when your meal was prepared.
A few other tips to make sure your sushi experience is the best you’ve ever had:
Get recommendations! Word of mouth or sites like Yelp tend to be great for weeding out the weaker restaurants and keep you from wasting time and energy. Also, many sushi experts recommend skipping Sundays since Japanese restaurants don’t always have fresh fish delivered on the weekend. Quality sushi restaurants are also usually closed on Mondays.
If you can, you should avoid all-you-can-eat sushi. While the “deal” might be tempting, you’ll probably end up regretting it. Sushi is supposed to be made from high quality ingredients, so a lack of freshness could be the reason you’re getting massive amounts for just 10 bucks.
And that’s how you can tell if your sushi is really fresh. Be sure to drop us a line if you find any great sushi spots worth checking out.