Cod Sashimi and Cod Sushi
If you’ve ever eaten fish and chips, creamy fish chowder, fish tacos or baked fish fillets, you’ve probably experienced more than one tasty Pacific cod dish. It’s such a mild, flaky, popular fish, it’s used in endless recipes and ordered often in restaurants across the country.
But have you tried cod sushi? It’s delicious, delicate, and different!
What is sushi?
Sushi literally means “vinegared rice,” and traditionally, tiny pieces of raw fish - sashimi - were tucked into sticky rice and wrapped up in an edible seaweed, called nori. That rice roll-up is called sushi, although American sushi may look and taste far different than the original versions. And it may or may not even contain fish.
A brief history of sushi
Archeological evidence suggests that Asian cultures long ago lived on raw fish, vegetables, and rice, and that tradition continues to modern days. Originally, fermented fish were preserved with deeply salted rice for weeks or months, and then the super-salty rice was discarded. Over years and miles, as people traveled and shared ideas, the techniques and ingredients changed, and vinegar became used in place of salted rice. That process and product has evolved into the sushi we know today.
Seaweed and rice roll-ups first became popularized in America when cooked seafood replaced the raw. California Rolls, for example, are inverted sushi rolls, with rice on the outside and seaweed, cucumber, avocado and cooked or artificial crab on the inside. The term sushi has become a generic word for any rice/seaweed roll-up, whether or not it contains fish or seafood.
What is sashimi?
Sashimi is the Japanese word that means raw meat, raw fish, or other raw seafood. Salmon, tuna, bass and sablefish are often the types of sashimi used in sushi, but cod can substitute quite nicely. Easy to cut and mild in taste, cod provides a base for the bold spices and tangy ingredients that are often added to cod sushi.
Are our cod sushi grade? Are they sashimi grade?
Yes. We sell only the highest quality wild Pacific cod which meet and exceed all standards set by the State of Alaska for sushi grade cod and sashimi grade cod. In fact, we sell only Alaska cod loins - the choicest, prime cut of cod. Our cod loins are the thickest part of the fillet.
Though there are no official regulations specifically defining “sushi grade cod” and “sashimi grade cod,” what the terms mean is that the fish
- are of the highest quality
- are safe to eat raw.
If fish have been frozen at a cold enough temperature, for long enough, they are considered safe to eat raw. We follow the strict guidelines set by the FDA which include these specific requirements for freezing:
Freezing at an ambient temperature of -31°F (-35°C), or below, until solid, and storing at an ambient temperature of -4°F (-20°C), or below, for 24 hours; these conditions are sufficient to kill parasites.
So this method of freezing, called flash freezing (or blast freezing), prevents any parasites or worms from affecting the safety of the fish. Because our cod are gutted shortly after being caught, there is little chance for any possible parasitic worms to travel beyond the cod’s intestines into their flesh. To ensure safety, we strictly follow the FDA guidelines and blast freeze our fish shortly after they’ve been caught and cleaned. Blast freezing quickly freezes the water in the fish cells into very tiny crystals, preventing damage to the flesh and preserving the fresh quality of the food.
Fish that have been blast frozen in state-of-the-art freezers, like ours, maintain their newly-caught qualities. Our process minimizes cell wall degradation, ensures safety, and maintains quality, texture, color and flavor.
What else can you tell us about our wild Alaskan cod?
Alaskan wild cod, along with salmon, halibut and sablefish, are very low in contaminants and are on the “unrestricted” list for how often they can be eaten per week. Women of pregnancy age should consult specific guidelines, but the State of Alaska Department of Health encourages all others to eat as much fish from our pristine Alaskan waters as they like, and recommends that everyone eat fish at least twice a week to obtain important health benefits.
Is the cod fishery in Alaska sustainable?
Yes. In fact, sustainable fishing has been the law since 1959 when Alaska became the only state with sustainability written into its constitution. Alaska’s fisheries are wildly sustainable. This great state pioneered science-based, sustainable, fisheries-management practices. Now Alaska serves as a worldwide leader and sets the gold standard for fisheries management.
How do you cut cod sashimi?
Now that we’ve learned a bit about cod, let’s discuss how to make cod sashimi. Begin with a raw cod fillet or portion of cod with the skin removed. It must have been blast frozen in a commercial freezer and kept frozen to ensure its safety. Thaw overnight in a refrigerator and remove, letting it sit out on an absorbent paper towel until it reaches room temperature (about 15-20 minutes). Pat dry.
With a very sharp knife, cut strips about two or three inches long, one inch deep and one-quarter inch wide. You need to cut across the grain, which will create the tenderest slices. If you cut with the grain - parallel to it - your fish will be tough. Only very fragile fish should be cut with the grain, a technique that helps hold dainty slices together. But because cod is firm, the across-the-grain approach is ideal. At this point, your raw fish slices are now considered cod sashimi.
We’ve found these short videos on how to cut fish for sushi very straightforward. If you need a little more reassurance, watch them and you will be a pro in no time!
How do you eat cod sashimi?
To enjoy your tender, thin slices of cod very simply, just pour soy sauce into a shallow sauce bowl, add a hint (or more) of wasabi and swirl around until mixed. Using chopsticks, if you wish, dip your sashimi into the sauce and enjoy this unique taste! You may also want to try the more traditional approach, which is to dip your sashimi in the soy sauce alone, and then dab just a corner of your fish into the wasabi. This way, your tongue experiences the varied tastes separately - and exquisitely!
What’s needed to make cod sushi?
The next fun step is to try your hand at making cod sushi. For that, you’ll just need to buy some short-grained rice, nori seaweed, and fillings as desired: avocado, cream cheese and cucumber are favorites. You might want to cook your rice the day before you plan to assemble and eat your sushi. You also will need to take your cod from the freezer and put it into the refrigerator the night before to thaw.
This video sets everything up so well, we highly recommend it for the specifics:
Are you ready to try a variety of cod recipes?
We’ve introduced you to our wild-caught Pacific Cod, and to the basics of cod sashimi and cod sushi. But cod is an all-purpose fish perfect not only for cod sushi, but also for many other favorite dishes, like baked cod, fish and chips and tacos. This mild-tasting, flaky fish can also star in salads, appetizers and chowders. Here’s one of our favorite recipes for cod:
Are you looking forward to a wild-caught Alaskan cod dish soon?
You can buy our premium cod in 5- or 10-pound boxes of 6 oz. portions, individually vacuum-packed, with guaranteed shipping. They’ll arrive at your doorstep frozen solid, superbly packed in a firm box containing protective dry ice packaging. Whether you’re longing for some familiar deep-fried fish and chips, a refreshing “crab” louie salad (made with flaky cod - no one will know the difference!), or perhaps a hearty fish chowder, we’re pretty sure you’ll find many creative and delicious ways to serve up our healthy, wholesome, wild-caught Alaskan cod.