Does Freezing Salmon Make It Sushi Grade?

When it comes to making sushi at home, one of the most common questions people have is whether freezing salmon can make it sushi grade. Sushi grade fish refers to high-quality fish that meets specific standards for freshness and texture.

Freezing fish is a common practice in the sushi industry, but does it really make a difference in the quality of the fish? Let’s dive deeper into this topic.

Understanding Sushi Grade Fish

Sushi grade fish is typically caught and handled with extreme care to ensure its freshness and safety for raw consumption. It should have a mild aroma, firm flesh, and a clean taste. The term “sushi grade” itself is not regulated by any official standards, but reputable suppliers follow certain guidelines to meet the expectations of sushi chefs and consumers.

The Role of Freezing in Sushi

Freezing fish before using it for sushi has become a common practice due to its benefits. First and foremost, freezing kills potential parasites that may be present in raw fish. This step is crucial to ensure food safety, as consuming raw or undercooked fish contaminated with parasites can lead to health issues.

Moreover, freezing helps preserve the texture of the fish. When frozen at ultra-low temperatures (-31°F or -35°C), the water inside the fish forms small ice crystals that minimize cell damage. This results in firmer flesh that holds up well when thinly sliced for sushi.

The Freezing Process

To achieve sushi-grade quality through freezing, certain steps need to be followed:

  • Selecting Fresh Fish: Start with fresh, high-quality salmon that’s suitable for raw consumption.
  • Prepping: Remove any scales, bones, or visible impurities from the fish. Rinse it thoroughly under cold water.
  • Wrapping: Wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn and odor absorption.
  • Temperature: Set your freezer to the coldest setting, ideally below -4°F (-20°C).
  • Duration: Salmon should be frozen for a minimum of 24 hours. Some sushi chefs freeze it for up to a week to ensure any potential parasites are eradicated.

The Thawing Process

Thawing frozen salmon properly is equally important to maintain its quality. Avoid thawing at room temperature, as this can lead to bacterial growth. Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Refrigerator Method: Place the wrapped salmon in the refrigerator and let it thaw slowly for 24-48 hours.
  2. Cold Water Method: If you’re short on time, seal the wrapped salmon in a leak-proof bag and submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until fully thawed.


In conclusion, freezing salmon can indeed make it sushi grade when done correctly. Freezing not only eliminates potential parasites but also improves the texture of the fish, making it suitable for raw consumption. However, keep in mind that freezing alone does not guarantee sushi-grade quality; starting with fresh, high-quality fish is essential.

To ensure food safety and achieve the best results, always follow proper freezing and thawing techniques when handling raw fish at home. Now that you have a better understanding of freezing salmon for sushi, go ahead and enjoy making your own delicious sushi creations!

Photo of author

Emma Gibson