Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Not to do With: Fish

In 2001, a group of high school graduates rented a large yacht for their prom and spend 2 days cruising around the Great Lake.  They managed to caught some large fish and, thinking the fish is fresh, the group shared it as sashimi.  Three weeks later, the entire graduating class had to be treated for parasite infection, except for 3 young gentlemen.  Apparently, these three boys drank very heavily during their little trip on the lake, killing not only their livers, but also the parasite.

I have a parasite phobia (I suppose it's a pretty good phobia to have), but Dennis and I love fish and especially sashimi.  My mother often lectured Dennis and I about our sashimi bingeing behavior siting some stories about people getting tapeworm from eating sashimi.  If you have been reading my blog for awhile now, you would know that this type of 'stories' don't sit well with me and my research begins.

Sashimi is not made from fresh fish
Contrary to popular perception, sashimi are NOT made cut from freshly caught fish.  Instead, fish are frozen in specialized freezer (min. -20˚C) for at least 7 days, before they are safe to consume raw.  This is legally enforced in Europe and U.S.  In B.C. and Alberta, there are also the same regulations regarding sashimi. By freezing the fish at this temperature for a long time, parasites that naturally lives in the fish are killed. The chance of a person getting parasite from eating sashimi in restaurants around Vancouver is smaller than getting into a car accident. Some fish can be eaten fresh too.  For example, worms in large tuna are exceeding rare

Farmed Fish vs Wild Fish
Contrary to popular perception, wild fish are not necessarily better or more hygienic then farmed fish.  In fact, wild fish often has more problems than fish from a well kept farm. For example, wild salmons contain more parasite than farmed one, because it was born in fresh water and most likely caught in fresh water. Farm-raised salmon is served pellet food, which is ground-up, processed fish meat. Any parasites in the fish meat are killed in the processing and grinding stages. Since salmon only obtains dangerous to humans parasites via food, farm-raised salmon simply isn't exposed to them.  In fact, many sushi restaurants in Vancouver to serve steelhead salmon (farmed salmon in BC) raw and fresh.

Isn't farmed fish terrible?
If farmed fish is done wrong, yes, it can have a lot of problems.  This is why people should always buy fish from a reputable fishmongers that sourced well maintained, chemical-free fish. Whole Food offers these regularly.  You can bet that cheap-all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants do not source healthy fish.

In Japan, sashimi can come from fresh fish. 
Actually, most of their fish nowadays comes in frozen now.  Yes, this is traditionally done this way.  You can also find chicken sashimi in Japan.  Would you ever eat raw chicken outside of Japan?

Can I ever prepare sashimi at home?
Yes!, Look for sashimi-grade fish.  While there are no regulation regarding the grading of fish, reputable fishmongers offers high quality flash-frozen tuna (both ahi and albacore) for sashimi.  However, always practice food safe.

Do not rinse your fish.
Water do not rinse off bacteria.  Instead, it promotes the growth and spreading of bacteria on fish. It also alters the flavour profile. This applies to all meats. Don't do it. Tell your fishmonger to not do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment