Where to get Sushi Fish in San Francisco Bay Area? (Part 1)
If you live in the City (San Francisco, that is), the best retail place for you to get Sushi & Sashimi fish is Nijiya Market in Japan Town, located on Sutter and Webster, just under the bridge in Japan Town Mall.
The store is very "cozy" - narrower aisles compared to other supermarket chains like Safeway and Wholefoods. The entire store is packed with Japanese groceries. You can get pretty much everything you need to make Sushi or Japanese food at home.
Since getting Sushi and Sashimi fish seems to be one of the biggest hurdles for most of our sushi class attendees, I thought to write this article to let you know where to go and how to look for in the fish for sushi.
(photo by Tiffany P., yelp)
1737 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115, 10AM-8PM
(They have stores throughout California)
Fish section is located all the way back to the store. After you enter through the front entrance on Sutter Street, walk all the way back, and on your left, you will find refrigerated individually packed fish there.
2. What should I look for?
Sushi & Sashimi fish has a label that says, "Sashimi" or "Sushi." As you can see in the pictures below, "Sashimi Salmon," "Sahimi Tuna" is the fish what you want to buy. They are in the rectangular block shape. They are called "Saku" in Japanese. You can bring these saku home and can cut sashimi, or slice for nigiri, or rolls.
Be aware that Nijiya does sell Non-Sashimi Salmon. They are located right next to the Sashimi fish, and the label will say just, "Salmon." If the label does not have "Sashimi" or "Sushi" written on it, it's for cooked consumption, NOT for raw consumption.
If you are every confused as to which one to buy for Sushi & Sahimi, the best approach is to ask someone at Nijiya and tell them you are looking to for Sushi & Sashimi fish.
3. Type of fish they have (availability may change, depending on the season)
Uni (Sea Urchin)
Katsuo (Bonito, Skipjack)
Aji (Spanish Mackerel)
Ikura (Salmon Roe)
Ama Ebi (Sweet Shrimp)
Mirugai (Giant Clam)
Shime Saba (Cured Mackerel)
Tai (Sea Beam/Red Snapper)
4. Sign of fresh fish
First of all, not all fish tastes the best when it's fresh, like off-the-boat kind of fresh.
For example, Tuna needs at least five days to up to two weeks of resting aging before the flavor reaches its prime. Salmon also needs five days or so after its caught.
When it comes to Hirame/Halibut, at least one week and two weeks. If it's caught on the same day, Hirame is not eatable - chewy and no flavor. However, if it's fresh local Albacore (in California), they are fantastic when it's just off the boat.
That being said, looking for a fresh fish is just like looking for a fresh tomato. What would you look for in a fresh tomato? Color, firmness, shiny texture and skin. These are the same qualities you want in a fresh fish.
A fresh tuna has very nice translucent red to the dark red color, firm because it retains water in its flesh and shiny. The older it gets, it will start to lose water, and you will see so-called red "drips" in the package. The color will become "muddy" or dull.
The same goes with white fish. Look for clear translucent color, shiny and firm texture is the sign of a fresh fish.
If it's a whole fish, then gills are nice bright red, not dark and eyes should be crystal clear.
5. When to buy and eat our fish
It's best to consume the fish the same day you purchased them. They should last in your refrigerator at least a day or two, and after that, you should either freeze them or cook them. The best way to keep the fish is on ice, tightly packed or sealed with plastic wrap, to keep the oxygen out.
If it's Tuna, wrap it with a paper towel and plastic wrap.
Well, that's it. Hope you make a trip to Nijiya, buy fish and enjoy making Sashimi or Sushi at home!
I will make a post on another Japanese supermarket I recommend in San Francisco Bay Area, where you can get fish for Sushi and Sashimi.