There are many different dishes on several different continents that incorporate raw fish, but the most popular by far is the Japanese dish sushi. Sushi eaters consume a wide variety of raw fish, the most important characteristic being that the fish is very fresh. With modern health standards the health risks of eating raw fish are negligible and so the best fish to eat raw is really a matter of personal taste, though there are a few species that are more liked than others.
Tuna is an extremely popular kind of fish to eat raw. It is a firm and fatty fish that has an excellent flavor when eaten raw. Tuna is so popular, in fact, that the extinction of some species of tuna is becoming a significant concern due to overfishing. There are also some health concerns related to tuna. A New York Times investigation found that there are some varieties of tuna that contain mercury levels high enough to potentially warrant their removal from the market by the F.D.A.
Salmon is another species of fish that is very popular to eat raw. Before the invention of refrigeration though, salmon was not used at all by the Japanese as a sushi fish because of parasites that would make the fish inedible soon after the fish was killed without the proper storage. Salmon has since become very popular though, in part because it offers a flavor that is unique from many white fish varieties.
Yellow Tail, also known as Japanese Amberjack, is another well-liked raw fish. The Yellow Tail is only found in the Northwest Pacific, but because this encompasses Japan, it has historically been very good. Today many of the Yellow Tail that makes its way on to plates as sushi is farmed, though there are still some Yellow Tail caught wild.
Red Snapper is another good sushi fish, though there are some differences between the Red Snapper that the Japanese will eat and the Red Snapper that Americans are served on sushi. The traditional Red Snapper is also known as Eastern Nannygai and is found in the South Pacific, around New Zealand and Australia. The Red Snapper most Americans eat is a different fish found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Southern Atlantic coast. Names aside though, the two fish are very similar and are difficult to tell apart.
- The New York Times; High Mercury Levels Are Found in Tuna Sushi; Marian Burros; January 2008
- PBS Wide Angle; A Guide to Sushi Fish: Tuna; May 2008
- PBS Wide Angle; A Guide to Sushi Fish: Salmon; June 2008
- "The Little Black Book Of Sushi: The Essential Guide to the World of Sushi"; Day Zschock; January 2005
- "The Connoisseur's Guide to Sushi: Everything You Need to Know About Sushi Varieties and Accompaniments, Etiquette and Dining Tips and More"; Dave Lowry; October 2005
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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