Salmon Sashimi from Costco

B swears you can make sashimi out of Costco salmon. I was mildly (ok, very) skeptical, but I told him if he prepared it, I would eat it. Love is trust, right?

I was sure if he ran a restaurant, he'd be cited for health violations by not using sushi grade fish for sashimi, but after a Google search, it seems that no one - not the FDA, not local health inspectors, not any governing body - knows what sushi grade means! Yep, there's no regulations, as long the fish has been frozen for a period of time to kill parasites. I suppose it's comforting that even when self-regulated, at least seafood vendors care about whether we get tapeworms.

Basically, "sashimi" is just a sexy marketing term to mean any fish that can be eaten raw. Of course, the fresher the fish, the better the taste and texture, so these fish should be killed and iced ASAP. Here's more info from SushifaqCooking Stack Exchange, and Beyond Salmon.
sushi Salmon Sashimi Costco
After more Googling (yeah yeah, so I trust online strangers' opinions more than my own boyfriend's) using Costco fish for sashimi is not uncommon. From personal experience, their salmon quality is actually quite decent. B is very picky about the package date being the same day to ensure absolute freshness, so he only trusts Costco (Ok, I know this is the second post in two weeks waxing eloquently about Costco, but my boy is in love with that place), and does not recommend getting the salmon from any random Chinatown market.

Update to some FAQs in the comments: The salmon is fresh (not frozen), and the day you buy the salmon should be the day you make this recipe - don't let it sit in your fridge for days!

The verdict? Let's just say I was pretty darn impressed. The salmon is so buttery and had the perfect texture.

N: I want you to make this salmon sashimi for my family when you visit us!
B: Oh you know how to make sashimi now, so you can do it for them.
N: Well, I'm afraid I'll poison them, so I'll let you make it!
B: Great, so if anything goes wrong, I'm the fall guy, eh?
Salmon Sashimi fish Costco sushi
B has made this recipe many times for family and friends and to date, no one has ever gotten sick. However, please use your own discretion when making this recipe as you are still eating raw fish (ie please don't try this if you're immunosuppressed or pregnant!). Otherwise, enjoy some amazing sashimi!

The Gentleman's Sashimi

Ingredients
fresh salmon filet (check the packing date - the day you buy = packing date = day making the recipe)
salt, to rub
rice vinegar, diluted in water (optional)
1 sushi cup rice, recipe below

Directions
Rinse and rub a generous amount of salt onto your salmon (both sides). Let sit in fridge for 2 hours. Afterwards, take out salmon from fridge and rinse with water.

Submerge your salmon in diluted vinegar (preferably rice vinegar but white works as well). You use pure vinegar or dilute the vinegar up to 1:10 (ie 1/2 cup vinegar and 4 1/2 cups water) if you want a less vinegar taste.Let sit in fridge for 1 hour. Remove from fridge and rinse thoroughly.

Pat it dry. Wrap salmon in saran wrap and put it in the freezer over night

The day you want to eat it, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge. This should take 6-8 hours; do not try speed it up by leaving it outside. Cut the sashimi with a sharp knife in a slicing motion. Mold rice with your hands, dab with wasabi, and cover with your sashimi.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Gentleman's Sushi Rice
This serving size here is for 1 person. The lady and I do not like too much rice in our nigiri.

Ingredients
1/2 cup sushi rice
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3/4 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon mirin

Directions
Rinse the rice only 3-5 times (water does NOT have to run clear) and drain in a strainer. While rice is draining, combine vinegar, sugar, salt and mirin together in a bowl and mix well.

Add rice to the pot. Bring quickly to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Cover the pot and DON'T touch it until the end, NO PEEKING. Put something heavy on the lid like another pot. The more pressure the rice is cooked under, the better it tastes.

Cook for 15 minutes before removing the pot from the heat but keep the lid CLOSED. Let rice rest for 10 min and then remove the cover.

Place in a glass dish to cool and lightly fan the rice while adding the vinegar mixture. Mix rice gently, being careful not to break it. Enjoy!

Doc Uy's notes: As a caveat, Costco does not claim to sell sushi grade fish, but if you freeze it per FDA guidelines (pg 69), you should be ok from parasites. As a doctor in training, I must also recommend taking FDA precautions if you're pregnant, old, sick, etc! Please be diligent in making sure your fish is good quality, don't eat fish that has never been frozen, and treat the fish with salt and vinegar for safety.

83 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Yay, does this mean I've promoted from washing rice?!

      Delete
  2. I approve the safety of this process!

    ReplyDelete
  3. How much salt are you talking? I just finished the salt and vinegar steps and am on the freezing step. I am worried u may have been too liberal with the salt or that I rinsed in between reached step too much. The color has become wash out looking. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Jacqueline, see B's comment below - he's the sushi chef of the household. hope that helps! :)

      Delete
  4. Your salmon might have started to chemical cook similar to pickling or ceviche if your vinegar marinade was too strong.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jacqueline,

    The reason your color has a washed out look is because you used vinegar. As "Anonymous" stated above treating fish with any acid will cook it and thus discolor it. It is still good to eat and if you used the right amount of vinegar you wont taste it.

    Sushi restaurants don't treat with vinegar because it discolors the fish. The reason I did it initially was for safety reasons. I was not sure if salt and cold temperature alone was enough to kill any pathogen that may be in the fish. The vinegar is just another means of treating the fish.

    After making the sushi enough times and not getting sick or food poisoning, I felt confident enough to skip that process. Nowadays, I skip the vinegar process all together and just do the salt and freeze treatment. As Chef Uy noted be smart with where you buy and how you treat your fish.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you! This has been an extremely helpful site. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. glad to be of help! If you find any tips or tricks, feel free to share. Recipes can always be improved :)

      Delete
  7. Thanks for the useful article! I would love to try but unfortunately a Costco salmon is too large of portion for me to make. Would it be possible to divide the salmon into portions and freeze, then defrost the portions as wanted? Or is there a time range that should be followed between freezing and eating?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I definitely can't eat an entire Costco salmon on my own. I use Costco because 1) the price is good and 2) they post the date of packing so you can ensure you get the freshest fish possible.

      I prepare the salmon sashimi as directed, and then afterwards, I cut it into very large chunks and freeze the pieces. I make sure to wrap it well in saran wrap then place it inside a sturdy ziploc bag to avoid freezer burn.

      Once you're ready to eat, just thaw it out in the fridge overnight (don't rush and leave it at room temp or microwave it) and you're good to go! Sashimi anytime at a great price!

      Delete
  8. Hello Anonymous,

    The Costco salmon portions are huge like you said. I actually cut it into 2-4 smaller pieces before treating with salt and freezing them individually in separate saram wraps. I take a piece ( or two depending on how hungry I am) out the morning of the day I plan to eat it and slice it into bite size pieces right before eating.

    Hope this helps! Happy eating =)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wanted to know if the salting process was supposed to change the texture of the fish? When I rinsed mine between the salting and the submerging in vinegar, I noticed the salmon had become significantly more firm. Is this normal?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dear Anonymous,

    Salting the fish is supposed to change the texture of the fish because you are drawing out the liquid from it. When you draw out the liquid you are also drawing out any potential toxins that may be there. It is normal and safe! Happy eating!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fish (especially for Sushi and Sashimi) texture and taste can be positively influenced by aging, similar to aged beef, so it's not a catch-all to say the fresher is better.

    IMO the sushi/sashimi grade designation is more about the characteristics/species of the fish than anything else - a younger salmon will produce a much more preferable meat than an older salmon for example.

    Even more important to note is that there are several types of salmon and certain types are better suited for smoking or canning than eating raw. Researching which fish or type produces the best meat and sourcing it from a knowledgeable fish monger is your best bet, plus you can double check that the type and age of fish your getting will result in good sushi.

    I have never heard of salting/brining the fish for sushi before, if I was using fish where I thought it was necessary to do this, I would seek better fish.

    Most Canadian Provinces and US States Health Department post sushi/sashimi storage, preparation and serving guidelines for restaurants, using these as a guide will help to ensure confidence and safety when you are starting out.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi! I tried the recipe but my salmon came out very salty. Just to confirm that you leave the fish in the fridge for 2 hrs salted correct? And what salt did you use? Is kosher salt okie?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello Anonymous,

    I leave the fish in the fridge for 2 hours and after wards I rinsed the salt off using running water. Make sure to pat it dry and then freeze it

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, is the costco fish in the frozen section? I want to try this. Please give more details about the costco salmon, where it is in the store, how it is packaged, and brand, if any? thanks so much

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello anonymous,

    These are fresh/ non-frozen salmon. At every costco I've been to its stored near the fresh chicken in a blue foam tray and saran wrap. I've personally only used the fresh salmon and NOT the farmed salmon

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks! I got the ones in a blue foam tray and saran wrap, too. It was lovely! I enjoyed it immensely!

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  17. During the vinegar/water soaking step how long do you usually soak it for? I understand 1 hour would be a less vinegary product. what's your suggestion for max time of the vinegar/water step?

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  18. To Anonymous Nov 25,

    I no longer do a vinegar soak. Over the years I felt more confident with the salting and freezing step. But if you still feel like treating it with vinegar will give you peace of mind by all means do it! I recommend 1 hour max. Make sure to rinse it well or else the fish will taste like vinegar.
    Happy cooking

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  19. doesn't Costco already freeze the salmon by the recommended FDA amount to kill parasites?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes they do, but for simple peace of mind I recommend treating it with salt and re-freezing

    ReplyDelete
  21. Funny to read someone else prefers Costco for salmon sashimi :) My family buys same-day packed salmon and then cut into it straight from the packaging, dip it in Korean chojang and eat it. So no, we don't vinegar, salt, or freeze the fish. We've been doing this for years and don't seem to have any problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow direct!? It doesn't get more convenient than that. You must really trust Costco indeed haha

      Delete
  22. I'm a sushi girl so this recipe is a must try for me. Sounds so yummy and easy!! Total win win!

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  23. Have you done this with tuna from Costco to make poke?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes the tuna recipe is right here - http://www.obsessivecooking.com/2014/03/pepper-crusted-ahi-tuna-sushi-roll.html :)

      Delete
  24. Does costco freeze all their salmon (including the ones labeled "fresh") according to FDA regulations before selling them? I recently ate raw fresh salmon from costco three days after it's package date. I only froze it overnight (about 10 hours) and im worried i ate some parasites!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't say - we never eat it unless we prepare it the same day it's packaged and then we have to wait for the freezing time

      Delete
  25. Sashimi is NOT a fancy marketing term, eating raw sliced fish comes from Japan and it's Japanese word for the format of eating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes that what sashimi can refer to, but if you read my post, I'm commenting how sushi grade doesn't hold any weight in the US. Based on what I've read, there is no formal regulation for sushi grade/sashimi grade, but I'm happy to hear if you find anything suggesting any formal definition

      My sources:
      http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/UCM252393.pdf
      http://www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/myth-sushi-grade/
      http://www.allaboutsushiguide.com/sushi-grade-fish.html
      http://www.sushifaq.com/sushi-sashimi-info/sushi-grade-fish/
      http://www.thekitchn.com/what-is-sushi-grade-fish-ingredient-intelligence-204696

      Delete
  26. Costco sushi is not recommended to consume raw. 2012 I had really bad experience after serving sushi at home along with friends over. We were sick all night with extreme stomachache. We were treated at the emergency
    NOT recommended to eat them raw

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Minsoo, sorry to hear that. It may be how you prepared it back then, as my post was written 2 years after your experience

      Delete
  27. Hey I was wondering how you skin the salmon. I tried doing it but there was some skin left on it and I'm not sure if that's normal. Should I cut into the salmon to make sure there's no skin left in the end?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We buy the salmon from Costco so that doesn't have any skin already. I suppose you could always cut the skin off - I've never tried the recipe with skin on.

      Delete
    2. I don't skin the salmon, I buy them pre-skinned from Costco

      Delete
  28. The rice turned out tasty, thanks for the well written post and tips. The salmon was discolored on the outside as mentioned above but when cut was still bright pink, most important it did not taste too vinegary (did the 10:1 dilution). If only my rice forming technique were better! Any tips on how to form perfect Nigiri?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed the recipe Pedro!

      Myself I dont even treat the sushi with vinegar anymore. Just salt and freezing does the job for me!

      Regarding the rice my recommendations are to use the correct type of rice (sticky rice) and add a little more water than you usually would to make the rice wet and thus stickier

      Delete
  29. I was told by a sushi chef that he packed a whole fish with salt them put vinegar then more salt and more vinegar until it was heavily coated then he wrapped it and refrigerated or froze it (or something) then pulled it out later when it was ready. Perhaps im remembering his methid incorrectly but that's what I recall.

    ReplyDelete
  30. You should really consider updating this article.

    "Costco was able to get back to me about how their salmon is frozen. 'They have advised the it takes about 35-45 minutes to get the product down to -10. Once it has reached that temperature, the salmon is then placed in 0 degree freezers.'

    Unfortunately, this means the FDA guidelines for raw fish consumption are not met. You are better off looking elsewhere."

    ReplyDelete
  31. For many centuries Japanese did not eat salmon for sushi BECAUSE of parasites. If an old fish has parasites, it had them when it was fresh, and you can get them either way. Norway convinced the Japanese to start eating raw salmon. Norway salmon are relative free of parasites.

    IF the FDA says that freezing kills the parasites, than that is what you should always do.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Can you use 7up to clean costco tuna/salmon for sashimi?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. why not, you may prepare any way you wish,
      just keep in mind that salmon or most sea water fish after being cut don't like to be washed in water or any liquid

      Delete
  33. There's no such thing as "sushi grade" anything. The FDA has no specific grating on it. Rule of thumb--the fresher, the better.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I definitely want to try this! I've been hesitant but seeing that you are still answering questions about this post must mean you are alive! I'm glad I read the comments because I also want to cut into 10 oz portions, vacuum seal, and freeze until use. Yeah I eat a lot of salmon sushi style. The crazy thing is that I *hate* cooked salmon. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  35. Woww… they all look amazing! I am gonna try them it!
    Go to sushi restaurant near me

    ReplyDelete
  36. How cold is your home freezer at when you prepare this? And how long do you leave it there before eating?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
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