When it comes to raw fish like salmon, properly caring for it is essential to preserving the fish and keeping it at its best quality. Knowing how to freeze salmon correctly is critical to the process of making sushi, so how should it be done?
To freeze salmon for sushi, you need to clean the fish. Then, cut the salmon into fillets or smaller pieces, as you prefer, before wrapping the salmon tightly in saran wrap, dating it, and storing it in the freezer. Salmon should be kept frozen at -4°F (-20°C) or below for at least seven days.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following about freezing salmon for sushi:
- The different ways to cut salmon before freezing
- The acceptable temperatures to freeze salmon
- A couple of great options you can use to wrap your salmon properly
Clean the Salmon
When you first get your salmon, it’s a good idea to clean it, whether you bought the raw salmon from a store or caught it yourself.
It would be best if you cleaned salmon by rinsing it in cold water. If you’ve got it yourself, you’ll also have to gut it. However, you should clean and gut fish carefully, as the bacteria can spread throughout the area that you’re cleaning it on.
The USDA recommends not rinsing raw fish or other meats, as rinsing meat or poultry increases the risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen. While many people still prefer to rinse their fish to get the slime and dirt off the fish, it’s not really necessary when the fish has already been processed.
However, if you caught the salmon yourself, or just prefer to rinse the fish, take many precautions when rinsing, and make sure to clean up after yourself thoroughly.
Cut the Salmon
The next step to freezing salmon for sushi is to cut it to your preference. For example, many people prefer to cut their salmon into fillets before freezing it, as it’s easier to slice when making sushi rolls or sashimi after it’s defrosted.
When cutting the salmon, you’ll want to make sure you inspect the fish to ensure it’s good quality and fresh. For example, if you notice the salmon is dry, cracked, or has a strong fishy smell, it’s probably not of good quality.
When cutting the salmon to your preference, avoid cutting in a sawing motion, as this can cause it to tear and make it more difficult to freeze.
Wrap the Salmon
Wrapping salmon before freezing is essential to keeping the fish at the best quality for the most extended amount of time. You can use multiple layers of saran wrap, aluminum foil, or both. However, the best way to ensure your salmon stays at its best quality is to vacuum seal it.
Using a vacuum sealer, such as the Anova Culinary Precision Vacuum Sealer Pro from Amazon.com, is a great way to ensure no bacteria can grow.
How Does Wrapping Help?
Wrapping salmon not only helps keep it fresh for a longer time but also helps prevent freezer burns, locks in the moisture of the salmon, and keeps it safe from other elements. After wrapping the salmon, it would be good to put it in a zip-lock bag before storing it.
BC Salmon recommends adding a couple of slices of lemon to the salmon before wrapping it to ensure optimal freshness.
Date the Bag
Dating the bag is an essential step to freezing salmon, especially if you buy salmon in bulk. If you buy salmon from a farmer, it’s probably cheaper to buy in bulk. For those who own a sushi restaurant, this is a common occurrence. Without properly dating, you could lose track of how long the salmon has been in your freezer, which would result in a lot of waste.
How Long Should I Freeze the Salmon?
According to the FDA, salmon should be frozen for at least seven days before serving it raw, as this will confirm that any bacteria in the salmon is no longer there. While this is the minimum amount of time you should freeze salmon for sushi, you can store it longer.
You should always freeze salmon before serving it raw, as many sushi dishes involving salmon are. While cooking raw food will kill any bacteria or parasites, bacteria could still be present if you’re serving raw fish. Therefore, freezing the salmon will kill any bacteria or parasites.
Put the Salmon in the Freezer
After adequately cleaning, cutting, wrapping, and dating the salmon, you’re ready to put it in the freezer. While you might just want to throw the salmon in your freezer and call it a day, you have to ensure your freezer is at the proper temperature and your salmon is in the right area of your freezer.
The FDA recommends freezing and storing salmon to kill parasites and be able to eat it in several different ways safely:
- Freezing and keeping it at -4°F (-20°C) for seven days
- Freezing at -31°F (-35°C) until solid and keeping it at the same temperature for 15 hours
- Freezing at -31°F (-35°C) until solid and keeping at -4°F (-20°C) for 24 hours
While these are all excellent recommendations and should be taken seriously, the size and thickness of the salmon are essential factors to consider as well. If your salmon is considerably thick, it might need to freeze a bit longer than others.
How Long Does the Salmon Last in the Freezer?
If you are freezing salmon to save it for later use, it will typically last around three months in a regular home freezer. However, storing the salmon in a chest freezer can prolong the quality for up to a year, since chest freezers are better insulated than refrigerator freezers.
Freezing salmon correctly will keep the quality and overall taste for months and even up to a year if it’s done correctly. Rinsing the salmon (if that’s what you want to do), cutting it, and adequately wrapping it in a vacuum-sealed bag before freezing will guarantee the freshest quality salmon.
However, always remember to check the temperature of your freezer, as -4°F (-20°C) is ideal, and don’t forget to date the salmon before freezing it for long periods. Following all of these steps will ensure excellent quality salmon for your sushi.
Here are some of my favorite sushi making tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you find it useful as you make sushi at home. Here are some tools I’ve used that I hope you’ll find helpful, too. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, I will earn a commission. But honestly, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my family.
Rice cooker: For getting started, I really like Zojirushi Rice Cooker. The Zojirushi Rice cooker does not only make rice-cooking dirt simple, but it is a quality gadget that cooks better than most chefs can. Unlike most kitchen gadgets, it does not sacrifice quality for convenience.
Knife:The Kai Knife is one of the best sushi knives in the market. Made in Japan’s famous knife-making capital, Seki city.
- FDA: Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance
- USDA: Washing Food: Does it Promote Food Safety?
- Wikipedia: Sashimi
- Seafood Health Facts: Parasites
- BC Salmon: Buying and Storing
- Sushi Everyday: Is Freezing Salmon for Sushi Necessary?
- Mura North Hills: How to Cut Salmon for Sushi as Easy as a Professional