It all started in Japan. Vendors shouting here and there selling all kinds of fresh fish — amongst this fish exists a special cuisine: sushi.
Sushi started to be a preserved fish packed with fermented rice. But now, it’s a fancy and delicious meal.
One of the most essential things about sushi is its need for fresh ingredients. How mouthwatering every meal can be when we think about the crunchiness of a cucumber, the juiciness of a slice of tuna, and the wonderful smell of vinegared rice?
Sushi is not just about the taste, though. It’s also about celebrating the freshness of the sea and the land. It’s a part of Japanese culture that has been around for a long time.
As we learn how to keep sushi fresh, we’ll see how much effort and care goes into making it. So, let’s start this adventure into the world of sushi and the careful methods used to make it a fantastic dining experience.
Why Is Fresh Sushi Important?
What makes sushi great is its combination of different flavors and textures. It might be weird when you look at it, but the taste is excellent, especially from fresh ingredients. So what makes freshly made sushi much more tastier aside from sushi sauce?
1. It Has a Better Taste and Feel
Fresh sushi tastes much better because the fish, umami, and other ingredients are at their tastiest. They have a nice mix of flavors and textures that make them delicious.
2. It’s Safer
Sushi often has raw fish, which can make you sick if it’s not fresh. Fresh sushi is safer because it has fewer harmful germs or tiny bugs in the fish.
3. It’s Aesthetically Pleasing
Fresh sushi looks great because the fish is colorful and shiny. Also, the vegetables are fresh and crisp. It’s like a pretty piece of art that you can eat!
4. Respecting Tradition
Making sushi is a kind of art from Japan. Using fresh stuff is part of that tradition, and doing it fresh shows respect for their culture.
5. Protecting the Ocean
When we choose fresh fish caught in a way that doesn’t harm the ocean, we’re helping to take care of the environment. It’s like being a good friend to our planet.
How to Preserve Seafood?
As you preserve seafood in your sushi recipe, it’s essential to understand what temperature to maintain its freshness. Here are some techniques that you need to know:
Technique # 1: Refrigeration and Freezing
The first rule of preserving seafood is keeping it cold. Below are a few temperature requirements you need to remember:
- Tuna and Salmon – Store between 32°F and 38°F (0°C and 3°C)
- Shellfish – Kept between 32°F and 35°F (0°C and 2°C).
- Mackerel and Sardines — Freeze in ultra-low temperatures, usually below -76°F (-60°C), for a short time to maintain quality.
Now, you may ask if there’s a difference between regularly freezing the sushi and flash freezing. Yes, there is. Flash freezing is something we suggest when preparing your sushi.
Technique # 2: Ikejime (Brain Spiking)
One preservation technique, also a Japanese tradition, is Ikejime. This age-old practice has been perfected over centuries in Japan, and here are two reasons why this one’s a good technique.
- Humane Treatment – This technique uses a sharp tool to quickly and painlessly end a fish’s life by piercing its brain. This shows respect for nature and ensures the fish doesn’t suffer.
- Preserving Freshness and Taste – While the main goal is to treat fish kindly, Ikejime also has some big advantages for seafood quality.
Here’s how to do this technique:
Step 1: Prepare a sharp spike or metal awl, a container of ice or icy water, and a cutting board.
Step 2: Get the fish you want to prepare. This can be tuna, salmon, and other types of seafood like octopus.
Step 3: Identify the spot where the brain is located on the fish’s head.
Step 4: Hold the fish firmly on a cutting board with one hand, and with the other hand, insert the sharp spike directly into the brain area.
Step 5: Place the fish into a container of ice or icy water immediately after spiking the brain.
Technique # 3: Vacuum Sealing
This technique is quite familiar to you. You remove the air from the bag or container. By doing this, you can prevent your seafood from spoiling easily.
For starters, these are the materials that you need:
- Vacuum sealer machine
- Vacuum sealer bags or rolls
- Seafood you want to vacuum seal
After gathering the materials, make sure your seafood is clean and dry. Pat it down with a paper towel and remove its moisture. Then, cut a piece of the sealing bag, carefully place the pieces of seafood, and seal your bag.
Your seafood is now vacuum-sealed and ready for storage in the refrigerator or freezer. Always follow food safety guidelines and any specific recommendations for the type of seafood you’re sealing.
Technique # 4: Salting and Curing
Salting and curing are another to make your seafood taste better and last longer. Here are some ways that will make your sushi fresh and tasty:
1. Salt-Curing (Shiozuke)
Here, you cover the fish with salt. This technique is used in mackerel, salmon, and herring. Today, you can even find fancy salt-cured salmon, known for its delicious umami taste.
2. Fermentation (Narezushi)
Before refrigerators, the Japanese used fermentation to keep fish fresh. You usually put the fish in a wooden barrel and let it sit.
3. Cured Sashimi
You can start this method by thinly slicing salt-cured salmon or mackerel and serving it as sashimi. Curing strengthens the flavors and gives the fish a slightly firmer texture.
4. Marination and Brining
To do this, you must marinate fish in a mix of soy sauce, mirin (a kind of sweet rice wine), and sake (a Japanese rice wine). You can also quickly soak the fish in salt and sugar to maintain its quality.
5. Sous-Vide Preservation
The vacuum-seal technique is also used, but you add seasonings and gently cook them in warm water at the exact temperatures this time.
How To Preserve Your Produce?
After dealing with seafood, it’s time to learn some techniques for making your produce last longer. Whether you’re a seasoned sushi chef or just an avid home cook, preserving our produce is essential.
Technique # 1: Store at the Right Temperature
It always begins with proper storage. How long the produce lasts depends on two things: temperature. Below’s how you can store your ingredients:
- Carrots, Cucumber, and Bell Peppers – Keep them cool at about 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C).
- Avocados and Pineapples – Store at slightly higher temperatures around 50°F (10°C).
- Tomatoes and Onions — These are better off at room temperature to retain their flavors.
Some foods, like leafy greens, need more humidity to stay fresh and crisp. You can use the vegetable crisper drawer in your fridge with higher humidity settings.
Be careful with your fruits! Keep them separate, or use special products that can slowly ripen them to keep your sushi as fresh as possible.
Technique # 2: Vacuum Sealing
Aside from sealing your seafood, you can seal your veggies to keep them in shape just as if you’ve bought them, and there are a lot more benefits, too.
With this technique, your veggies can be crunchy and colorful to make your sushi taste amazing. If you’re freezing it, vacuum sealing can help you have fresh sushi whenever you want.
To do this process, prepare your veggies and cut them to the correct size. Storing them in smaller bags for individual portions would also help. Seal it at one end, suck out the air, and seal it thoroughly.
Moreover, write down when you sealed it to keep track of its freshness. This is top quality for your sushi. You can prep in advance and consistently make delicious sushi for everyone.
Technique # 3: Freshness Preservers
One of the coolest ways to keep your produce intact is by using freshness preservers. Here are some natural preservers:
- Lemon Juice – It’s a natural way to keep produce fresh because it stops bad germs from growing. Plus, it adds a nice zesty flavor to your sushi.
- Vinegar – Especially rice vinegar. It’s a must-have in sushi making. Not only does it give your sushi that special taste, but it also helps your ingredients keep their texture and color.
- Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) – This is super high-tech. It changes the air inside the packaging to create the perfect conditions for keeping things fresh.
- Precision Freezing – Especially with modern freezers, you can freeze your ingredients at super cold temperatures. It preserves even the most fragile ones.
Technique # 4: Pickling
If you enjoy sushi, you’ve probably seen those colorful pickled items that come with it. These pickled goodies are called “tsukemono” in Japanese. They balance out the fish’s richness and the rice’s sweetness, making your meal more enjoyable.
You might have encountered some pickled sides:
- Gari (Pickled Ginger) – You know that pale pink ginger that comes with sushi? It’s called gari. It cleanses your palate and adds a mild, sweet, and slightly tangy flavor.
- Shibazuke – This is made from cucumbers, eggplant, and perilla leaves. It is soaked in a special brine with red shiso leaves.
- Beni Shoga (Red Pickled Ginger) – Red pickled ginger, or Beni Shoga, adds a spicy kick and a touch of sweetness to sushi rolls.
So, when making sushi at home, remember that pickling isn’t just a tradition; it’s a way to make your sushi taste amazing and last longer.
In A Nutshell…
Having a great sushi experience depends on the freshness of the seafood and the produce it uses. To have a fresh sushi delight, you must know how it was preserved.
Whether creating one at home or planning to buy one in-store, you need to know that the ingredients are superb in quality.
Here at Fresh Farms, we offer a delightful sushi experience. We have chosen the flavors wisely so that you won’t have to worry about what you eat.