For the past five decades, sashimi has grown in popularity in the US. The grade of fish is based on its fat content, which impacts its shelf life. If you are buying sashimi fish, you will likely be buying Yellow tail, part of the jackfish family, and tuna, including bluefin tuna. But how can it be stored long-term?
Did you know that salmon is not authentic sashimi? Sashimi translates to cut meat or pin meat. Salmon was introduced when sashimi hit California with other fish not traditionally used in authentic Japanese sashimi.
Eating cold raw fish may not be everyone’s idea of a fun meal, but the style of eating fish and rice is gaining traction with every new restaurant. This article unveils how to preserve sashimi for as long as possible while not detracting from the quality of the fish. We answer many frequently asked questions to provide you with factual information.
Let’s dive in.
Does sashimi expire?
Sashimi or raw fish has a very short shelf life.
Sashimi at room temperature lasts for no longer than two hours, and when even placed in the refrigerator, its shelf life is short at 1 to 2 days, depending on how fresh the fish is and the fat content of the fish.
The fat content of the fish grades sashimi. The higher the fat content, the better the sashimi, but fish with high-fat content spoil very quickly when refrigerated as the fat will turn rancid.
Covering raw sashimi does not give the fish an extended shelf life. In ancient Japan, fish was fermented, but that funky smell will not sit well in expensive restaurants where the clientele expects fresh and clean-tasting raw fish.
The rice served with sashimi is short grain rice, something like Japonica. This rice is used because it can form and keep the shape to which the sashimi is laid over, giving a wonderful, full presentation style.
However, boiled rice has an equally short shelf life, stored in the fridge just three days before it starts going bad.
You may find a light vinegar taste in the rice. This is authentic Japanese-style sashimi.
There is confusion between sashimi and sushi, but they are distinctly different. Sashimi is sliced fish in individual slices or thinly sliced fish across molded rice. Sushi traditionally uses more cooked fish, shrimp, and even vegetables wrapped in rice and Nori.
Does sashimi need to be refrigerated?
Yes, without exception, raw fish should be refrigerated even when prepared to be served. The shelf life of sashimi fish and rice is very short.
Sashimi fish has a shelf life of just two days. Even the mighty bluefin tuna can not last more than two days in the fridge. Out of the fridge, the raw fish will last for two hours maximum before it should be discarded.
If you think raw sashimi fish has a short life in the fridge, the rice is comparable in terms of shelf life and potentially just as harmful if eaten when past its shelf life.
Short-grain sashimi rice will only last for three days, refrigerated before it is spoiled.
Does covering sashimi make a difference?
It can make a difference.
If you have your raw sashimi fish and place it in an airtight container, it will make no difference to the shelf life. It will last for a short two days regardless of the fat content of the fish and the species of fish.
The same applies to short-grain rice or any rice you may consider using with sashimi.
However, vacuum-packed sashimi fish can last for ten days in the fridge. This is because the air has been removed from the bag, and the fish cannot oxidize.
Of course, the fish should be fresh when vacuum-packed.
Can you put warm sashimi in the fridge?
Just by the very nature of sashimi, it is always served cold. However, it is not always that sashimi is never cooked, so it is worth answering the question to its full potential in the interest of food safety.
If sashimi is cooked and warm, the answer is no, and it is not just about fish or rice. Placing warm food in the fridge is a bad idea.
If you read online that you can’t put warm cooked sashimi in the fridge because of condensation coalescing into water droplets that will drip and make your sashimi soggy and less appealing, you are being misled.
Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing warm sashimi in the fridge will elevate its temperature while it radiates heat.
Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.
So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It’s not just your warm fish or rice. It is the contents of the entire fridge.
Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.
Seems harsh? According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.
How long can sashimi sit out?
2 hours. The fish should be placed on ice, but even then, sitting out a room temperature, the fish will only be able to be served for two hours.
Raw fish, cooked fish, and rice are perishable goods containing bacteria. At room temperature, the bacteria in the rice and fish will multiply exponentially over two hours, making the bacteria load of the fish and the rice so high it has become dangerous to eat.
According to the USDA, perishable foods such as sashimi sitting in the food danger zone where the temperature is 40℉-140℉ should be discarded after two hours.
How long does sashimi last in the fridge?
1 to 2 days. If you break the ingredients of sashimi into its component parts, it’s simply raw fish and short-grain rice.
Raw fish in the fridge has a shelf life of 1 to 2 days if it’s vacuum-packed and can last up to 10 days.
Cooked rice in the fridge will last for 2 to 3 days, so if you take the lowest figure, that should be your expected shelf life in the fridge, which is just one day. Exclude the vacuum-packed raw fish.
Covering and pacing the sashimi in airtight containers will not extend the life of the fish or rice.
Does frozen sashimi go bad?
Technically any food frozen at 0℉ or below has an indefinite shelf life if continuously frozen. But sashimi is different. The fish is delicate, and its food is prepared. It will not freeze successfully. Instead, you will have a soggy mess on your plate that will be a disastrous meal served.
However, all is not lost. You will lose some time preparing the dish, but if you are to preserve the sashimi, you will need to deconstruct the dish and freeze it in its component parts.
There is an excellent argument to only freeze the fish, the rice is quick to cook, and it can be cooled in the fridge for a few hours before you assemble the sashimi, that is, if you are using rice and not just raw fish as part of the meal.
It’s worth noting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends freezing at −35 °C (−31 °F) for 15 hours or at −20 °C (−4 °F) for seven days. This will kill the parasites in the fish.
There is no set protocol for freezing sashimi but follow the guide for the best results.
Only buy sashimi-grade fish. Not all fish are suitable for sashimi. It must be fresh and have to correct fat content.
- The fish should be cleaned meticulously. Remove bones and scales from the fish if you have a whole fish. If filets, check for pin bones and remove them with pliers.
- For large fish, it is advisable to chop it into manageable pieces for freezing.
- Dip the fish in a brine solution, which will firm the skin’s texture, dip for just 30 seconds and then pat dry the fish to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Put the fish in the freezer for 1 hour to become part frozen. This way, it will be easier to handle.
- Wrap the fish in a cling wrap. A double wrap is better than a single, and you are trying to eliminate freezer burn.
- Place the fish in a Ziploc bag, remove as much air as possible, and seal tightly.
- Mark the freezer bag with the freezing and expiration dates of six months from the freezing date and then freeze.
There are other methods, but this one works well, and the fish will be perfect when its thaws.
How to defrost sashimi?
Slowly. Defrost the sashimi fish overnight in the refrigerator before preparing your dish.
Sahami may be popular, but it’s delicate and has a short shelf life in the fridge. But sashimi fish will freeze well and be kept for six months in the freezer before the fish degrades and loses texture.
It is essential to use sashimi-grade fish only for this dish.