Sushi has become a popular culinary trend across the world. With its burst of flavors and fresh ingredients, it’s no wonder sushi bars are popping up everywhere. As a sushi lover myself, I occasionally get the craving to make sushi at home. My local Costco often has beautiful thick cuts of fresh salmon on display, which look perfect for slicing up some salmon nigiri or rolls. But I have to ask myself – is that Costco salmon sushi-grade? Is it safe to eat raw? Let’s dive in and find out.
The Importance of Sourcing Safe Sushi Fish
When eating raw fish, safety has to be your number one concern. Simply put, the fish must be free of harmful bacteria and parasites to be consumed raw. Parasitic infections from eating contaminated raw fish can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even neurological issues. No thanks!
This is why it’s so important to source sushi-grade fish, whether you’re a professional sushi chef or a home cook. So when we ask is Costco salmon sushi grade, we need to examine where Costco gets its fish from and how safely it’s handled.
Why Trust Costco for Fresh Fish?
As one of the largest wholesale retailers in the U.S., Costco has massive seafood operations. It sources fish globally, getting salmon from Alaska, Norway and Chile. It also owns several fish processing and packaging plants.
What does this mean for us? It tells us that Costco has:
- Trustworthy labeling – Costco’s seafood labeling is extremely detailed, indicating the source location and species of the fish. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting.
- A huge volume of sales – The fast turnover of fresh seafood guarantees you’ll be getting a product that just came in off the boat. Less time for your fish to be sitting around leads to better freshness.
- High-quality fish – Costco has the capital and supply chains to buy fish in bulk from the best sources. The salmon is ocean-caught in cold waters when in season, harvested at peak freshness.
This gives me confidence that Costco is a trustworthy fish monger with the capabilities to provide fresh, sushi-grade seafood. But there are still some concerns around parasites we need to address.
Parasite Risks of Eating Raw Fish
The FDA warns that eating raw fish can expose you to parasites like tapeworm, roundworm, Anisakis and Diphyllobothrium. Yikes! The good news is that salmon, tuna, scallops, shrimp, crab and other saltwater fish have a low occurrence of parasites harmful to humans.
However, some fish do pose a higher risk when eaten raw:
- Wild salmon – More prone to parasitic infection than farmed.
- Tilapia – Low risk but still present. Usually farm-raised.
- Flounder – High risk due to eating raw fish themselves.
The ocean dwelling fish I would completely avoid raw would be herring, mackerel, grouper and orange roughy. So clearly, it depends on the species – and in the case of salmon, whether it’s wild or farmed.
FDA Guidelines for Killing Parasites
According to FDA guidelines, fish to be eaten raw must be:
- Frozen quickly to -35°C/-31°F or below for 15+ hours – This quick freeze kills any parasites present.
- Frozen at -20°C/-4°F or below for 7 days – Freezing for an extended time also kills parasites.
So if your fish hasn’t undergone proper freezing protocols, it’s unsafe to eat raw and should be cooked instead. Now let’s get into the specifics of Costco salmon.
Is Costco Salmon Safe for Sushi?
The vast majority of salmon sold at Costco is farmed Atlantic salmon. On the rare occasion some wild sockeye makes an appearance, it will be clearly labeled as such.
Wild salmon has a moderate to high risk of parasites. But the farmed salmon at Costco carries minimal parasite risk, since they are raised in pens, not foraging in the wild.
Additionally, Costco quickly freezes their salmon according to FDA guidelines before selling. This kills any parasites that may be present.
The combination of buying farmed salmon and Costco’s freezing methods makes their salmon a safe, sushi-grade choice. Let’s go over some specific tips when buying salmon for sushi at Costco:
- Check the label – Confirm it is farmed Atlantic salmon. Avoid wild varieties.
- Look for firm, plump flesh – The color should be bright orange-red.
- Make sure the skin is shiny, not dull. This indicates freshness.
- Look for any discoloration, dry patches or gaps in the fillet. This is a sign of mishandling.
- Smell the salmon. It should smell mildly briny but not fishy.
- Pick salmon packaged that day for ultimate freshness.
- Use or freeze within 2 days for food safety.
Following these guidelines will help you pick the freshest, safest farmed salmon fillets for crafting sushi at home.
Safely Using Other Costco Fish for Sushi
The most commonly used seafood in sushi are salmon, tuna, shrimp, scallops, crab and more. Here’s a quick rundown of their safety for eating raw:
Scallops have no natural parasite risk, making them an ideal sushi ingredient. Costco sells large day boat scallops, which are ultra fresh. Make sure they look and smell good. Discard any damaged ones. Rinse, slice and enjoy raw in sushi!
Tuna is very safe for eating raw, as sashimi and in sushi rolls. Costco sells tuna steaks or logs of sashimi-grade ahi and bigeye tuna. Look for tuna that is deep red and firm. Use within 2 days or freeze.
Shrimp have no parasite concerns. Costco carries peeled, cooked shrimp perfect for sushi. Make sure they don’t have an off smell. Use chilled or refresh in ice water. Add to rolls or top with shrimp nigiri.
Crab is another favorite in California rolls and other sushi dishes. Crab has no parasite risk, so the cooked imitation or real crab legs at Costco work great. Pick the meat and incorporate into your favorite sushi recipes.
Tilapia farmed in the U.S. is safe for eating raw. Costco tilapia is freshwater farmed in America. While not traditional, it can be thinly sliced for homemade sushi. The mild taste works well with spicy mayo and vegetables.
I recommend avoiding raw flounder, which has a high chance of parasites. Costco doesn’t typically stock it anyway. For flatfish, I suggest substituting safer options like halibut or sole if you can find sushi-grade fish elsewhere.
Conclusion: Is Costco Salmon Sushi-Grade?
After doing thorough research into Costco’s sourcing, freezing methods and salmon quality, I can conclude that Costco salmon is indeed sushi-grade. As long as you are choosing farmed salmon and the fillets look and smell fresh, you can confidently use Costco fish for homemade sashimi, nigiri and rolls. Their other seafood like tuna, scallops and crab are also safe picks for sushi.
The key is starting with the highest quality ingredients from a supplier you trust. By following proper handling and storage, you can create delicious sushi safely at home. So go ahead and grab some Costco salmon next time – your homemade sushi will be both a treat for your tastebuds and safe to enjoy raw! Let me know if you have any other questions about sushi grade fish.