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When it comes to cooking in general, there is a lot of fear of eating raw food. Arguably the biggest exception to this is raw fish. People eat raw fish on purpose because it is delicious, easy, and has a great texture. While it is understandable why people shy away from eating raw meat, there are some meats out there that are perfectly safe to eat raw.
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Is It Safe To Eat Raw Salmon?
As said, there is a lot of concern when it comes to eating any food in general that has not been properly cooked. Raw or undercooked fish is quite an exception from this as it is eaten in many different cuisines globally without being a health concern.
The main reason cooking food is such a big deal is because it will kill all of the bacteria on the outside of the food. This bacteria can lead to nasty infections, food poisoning, and more. When cooking a steak, you can have the inside as raw or cooked as you want, yet the outer layer must always be seared. This is for that very reason of making sure the bacteria residing on the outside is dealt with.
Some meat such as chicken, pork, and lamb are different when it comes to being eaten raw. These meats, and a couple of others, are prone to harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, and E. coli. The difference is that these bacteria can get inside the food and be almost impossible to isolate and remove. This means the food has to be entirely cooked to a certain temperature to kill this bacteria, instead of just searing the edges of it.
While fish is not exempt from bacteria, there are a lot of precautions you can take to make sure it is not dangerous. The food the farmed fish are fed can easily be contaminated yet still be used. The contaminant will be a toxin or an industrially produced chemical that can easily get traces of itself into salmon via the feed. These are bad, but only seem to be a huge issue when it comes to mass-farmed fish with low health regulations.
While it may seem scary after mentioning the dangers of eating raw fish and meat in general, there is nothing bad about eating raw fish or raw salmon as long as you know it is free of any dangerous bacteria. Thankfully, there are ways to do this so that you can eat salmon raw as often as you like.
Minimize The Risk Of Raw Fish
If you wish to eat raw salmon but are nervous about its risks, there are a lot of ways you can make sure that the salmon is safe to eat. It is hard to safely eat salmon raw once it has been contaminated, so it is best to make sure you carefully choose a salmon that is not filled with bacteria. The ways to reduce the risk of raw fish are;
- Inspect your fish. While it may seem pointless, it is still worth looking at your fish of choice to see if it looks off in any way. While you may not be able to visibly see the bacteria, you may be able to get an idea of if the fish is bad or not. Another great way to inspect the fish is by smelling it. Fish is naturally very potent and smells fishy. However, if the fish is bad, the smell it produces will be a lot worse than usual and will also have a sour odor with it.
- Buy from trusted retailers. A great way to make sure your fish is fresh and safe to eat is to buy it directly from the source, or as close to it as possible. Any fishmonger will most likely be able to tell you when and where the fish was caught, and even how long it has been dead. This is a great way to get an idea of how fresh your fish really is.
- Store your fish properly. While you may have just purchased a fresh fish, it will not be so fresh if you leave it on the kitchen table overnight. For storing purposes, it is best to lay your fish on a bed of ice in the fridge before using it. This can be stored for a few days like this,
- Freeze the fish. Freezing your salmon will have two great benefits in this situation. Firstly, frozen fish stays very fresh and will be perfectly fine a week from now. To thaw it, all you need to do is leave it in the fridge overnight. The other great benefit of freezing fish is that it can kill bacteria and parasites that may be found in your fish. When stored at -4 degrees F for a week, or -31 degrees F for 15 hours- the bacteria and parasites will die as they cannot live in this condition. Make sure your freezer can reach a temperature this low as many cannot.
- Wash your hands and utensils. While preparing raw salmon, it is essential that you wash your hands before and after handling the fish. This also goes for the utensils as they must be washed too in order to avoid contaminating any other meat in the kitchen.
Why Eat Raw Salmon?
In addition to all the amazing health benefits that salmon will naturally have, raw salmon can offer a few more.
When eaten raw, fish does not contain a certain contaminant known as heterocyclic amines. When fried or grilled, this contaminant is more likely to form as it forms under high heat. Studies have linked a high intake of this contaminant to an increased risk of cancer.
One of the most popular health benefits that salmon can offer is omega-3 fatty acids. This is really healthy and great for you, which is why people recommend salmon so much. However, when fried salmon can have a reduced amount of these fatty acids in them. This means that when eaten raw, salmon can have a higher level of nutrients such as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Not every reason has to be related to health. A huge part of why people eat raw salmon and raw fish, in general, is because it is different, tastes nice, and has a brilliant texture. Raw fish taste similar to how it is when cooked, but the flavor of the cooking oil or other ingredients is not there. The fish tastes fresh and pure. As well as this, the texture is very different. When cooked, salmon has a very flakey texture and is prone to breaking apart. When raw, salmon is very meaty and sticks together. While it may be similar to some other fish, salmon has a lot of differences compared to other fish when it comes to flavor and texture.
The recipes that raw fish can be used for are also amazing and are also very traditional. Many of these recipes are not incredibly popular, but the most popular type of food to make with raw fish is sushi, or more accurately; sashimi.
What Is Sushi?
Sushi is a Japanese dish that includes rice, fish, and other ingredients. It is famed for being ‘raw fish’ but it is actually not raw. Sushi can come in all different flavors and forms as it changes depending on the fish and other ingredients used. Rice is used in almost all recipes whereas the other ingredients change a lot.
A very simple type of sushi is where a small cuboid of rice is topped with thinly sliced raw fish. This is typically done with salmon. Sushi is often paired with soy sauce, wasabi, and fresh ginger. The soy sauce and wasabi act as flavorings while the ginger is used to wash your palate between bites.
The Difference Between Sushi And Sashimi
The biggest misconception surrounding this is that sushi is raw fish. This is not true as sashimi is where raw fish is used. Sushi is lightly cooked fish that has not been cooked to the point of being fully cooked. It is partially cooked but is still fresh and cold.
Should You Eat Raw Salmon?
While it may just be my experience, raw salmon is delicious and fun to eat. The dishes it can be used in are brilliant and healthy while still being tasty and filling. Raw salmon is very healthy for you and is a good food to add to your diet and try to eat at least once a week. Despite there being some issues with contaminated fish, as long as you pay attention to where you buy your fish, how fresh it is, and how to properly store it, you should be just fine.
FAQs On Raw Salmon
Is raw salmon good after 3 days?
If stored in the fridge inside an airtight container, raw salmon will be fine for up to 4 days. To extend this, either place your salmon on a bed of ice in the fridge or freeze it.
Is salmon safe to eat raw?
Provided you get your salmon from a reputable source that follows health regulations very strictly and stores their fish properly, you can absolutely eat salmon raw.