Many people might think of sushi before they do sashimi, but the rice less preparation of seafood known as sashimi is an absolute delicacy. It requires the best sashimi-grade ingredients and skillful preparation. The result is a dish that allows the true flavor of the ingredients to sing. And the list of great sashimi includes high-quality shrimp.
Like any other sashimi ingredient, there are high demands on shrimp sashimi. Because it is often eaten raw, the shrimp must be carefully selected, and the preparation must be precise and rigorous. But as long as there is the right kind of fresh shrimp and proper handling, you can get some great flavor with shrimp sashimi.
While finding the best shrimp and getting the preparation done right might take extra time, the result is worth the effort. Not only is the shrimp’s natural sweetness displayed in its full glory, but the texture is kept at its peak. So, if you are curious to learn all about shrimp sashimi and how to find the best sashimi-grade shrimp, keep reading!
The first thing you might be asking is whether shrimp sashimi is even a thing. Do people actually eat it? While the more familiar types of sashimi might be sleek slices of salmon or tuna, it includes a massive number of different types of fish and seafood. And among the seafood known for making great sashimi is shrimp.
In fact, shrimp sashimi and raw shrimp are considered a delicacy in many areas. There are even places where live shrimp is peeled, dipped in sauce, and eaten. Moreover, there is not just a single type of shrimp used for shrimp sashimi. Some of the common shrimp used to make sashimi are:
- Ama Ebi (Sweet Shrimp)
- Kuruma Ebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn)
- Botan Ebi (Botan Shrimp)
- Sakura Ebi (Cherry Blossom Shrimp)
However, while those are common types of shrimp sashimi, there are many other types of shrimp that can be used. Really, the freshness and preparation matter more, especially since eating undercooked shrimp that is not properly handled can be dangerous.
The Dangers of Eating Raw Shrimp
Shrimp sashimi exists, and it is a delicacy enjoyed by many people throughout the world. However, while it can be eaten, should it? What are the dangers? Well, for starters, raw shrimp, like all raw seafood, might contain bacteria, viruses, and even parasites. These things could then lead to food poisoning and illness. Scary, right?
But the truth is that the risk is minimal, assuming proper steps are taken to minimize the risks involved. But before diving into the proper steps to take, it is important to understand why these steps are necessary and what exactly they help prevent.
There is the possibility that shrimp contains harmful bacteria that can only be killed through high-temperature cooking. The bacteria include Vibrio, which includes over 70 species, with 12 of them known to cause illness when ingested by humans. Moreover, it is a very common type of bacteria in raw shrimp.
Vibrio is a naturally occurring bacteria in coastal and other water environments in tropical zones. Moreover, when in the right conditions, the bacteria grows quickly, making it difficult to avoid if the shrimp come from certain areas.
Additionally, Bacillus bacterium is also known to reside in shrimp, and it is associated with unpleasant symptoms. Therefore, it is of particular importance that any shrimp for sashimi is carefully selected to avoid these risks.
Another common risk when eating raw or undercooked foods is food poisoning. While it has more to do with preparation than anything else, it is a serious risk that needs to be considered when eating sashimi of any kind, particularly shrimp sashimi.
One common cause, salmonella, is a commonly introduced environmental contamination. It can be passed on by various bits of domestic and industrial waste. It often appears due to cross-contamination as well, whether it be during storage or prep. Therefore, every step leading up to the consumption of shrimp sashimi is vital.
Parasites are another major concern when it comes to raw seafood, including shrimp. And they are a problem with sashimi for a few reasons. The first is that parasites are very common, especially when shrimp comes from many places. It means that buying any ingredient for sashimi involves a lot of trust between buyer and seller.
Secondly, parasites are traditionally eliminated through cooking at a certain temperature. So when the seafood is served raw, it becomes more difficult to get rid of. That does not mean there is no way. Most sashimi-grade seafood is frozen at extremely low temperatures to impact the parasite levels.
Depending on the temperature, the required storage time varies. Regardless, that is how most sashimi-grade seafood sellers freeze their products. Even then, it is all about trust. And it is also all about the environment of the shrimp before they are caught.
Why Eat Shrimp Sashimi?
You might be wondering whether there is a reason to take the risk. After all, there is plenty of great sashimi out there, and cooked shrimp tastes delicious already. But eating shrimp sashimi is not that dangerous if everything is handled properly. In fact, the chance of a healthy individual getting seriously sick is minimal.
There is also the taste and texture. Sashimi is all about highlighting the natural flavor and texture of the ingredient. Shrimp sashimi is no exception, with the naturally sweet flavor of the shrimp coming through. Moreover, depending on the type of shrimp, other subtle tastes come out.
Shrimp sashimi also stands out due to the crisp but bouncy texture, which provides a nice bite and chew that is pleasant to the palette. Therefore, as long as the right shrimp is used, you will get to experience a unique taste and texture that is great on its own or with other types of sashimi.
People Who Should Not Take the Risk
Before explaining the ways to ensure you are eating the safest shrimp sashimi, it is important to note that not everyone should eat it. While it is generally considered safe with minimal danger, any raw food does carry certain risks. Those risks are further enhanced when it comes to certain groups of people, including:
- Older adults
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with compromised immune systems
There is minimal harm when eating shrimp sashimi, especially when everything is done properly, but the groups above face additional risks. Not only can they become sick, but there is a chance that any illness caught can carry enhanced risk and be potentially fatal.
Ensuring Shrimp Sashimi Is Safe
The first thing that needs to be made clear is that sushi-grade and sashimi-grade are less religious safety labels and more marketing tools. What that means is that there is no legal requirement for a product to receive the label. While that does not mean there is no difference, it is less regulated than you might expect.
That is why trust is so important. Knowing where you are getting your shrimp from and whether they are trustworthy is vital. Below are all of the things that need to be kept in mind when sourcing, preparing, and eating raw shrimp sashimi.
The Purchase Process
The ingredients need to come from a reliable and hygienic supplier. The people selling the shrimp know more about it and the environment it came from than you do. Therefore, it is important that they are trustworthy and handle things properly on their end.
Because of the need for properly handled seafood, getting it from a stall or grocery store is not advisable. There are places that sell sashimi-grade products, which are fine, but you should not purchase and use just any shrimp. Additionally, shrimp meant for sashimi needs to be frozen at certain temperatures to kill parasites:
- Freezing and storing at -4°F or below for 7 days
- Freezing at -31°F or below until solid and storing at -31°F or below for 15 hours
- Freezing at -31°F or below until solid and storing at -4°F or below for 24 hours
The above temperatures are recommended by the FDA and other food and health organizations. Therefore, if you plan on using shrimp for sashimi, make sure you minimize the risks by ensuring this process has occurred.
Transporting and Storing the Shrimp
Environmental contaminants can be very harmful to shrimp, and if it is being used for sashimi, it needs to be kept as clean as possible. Therefore, keeping it in a clean and hygienic environment is a must. It should be independently stored during transport to ensure there is no cross-contamination. Keeping it cold is also a must.
While the storage methods for killing harmful parasites were mentioned above, there are storage requirements to keep it safe after that as well. If the shrimp is being chilled, keep it between 32°F and 39°F. If it is frozen, ensure it remains at or below 0°F. Some other best practices include:
- A log of the temperature of the fridge or freezer
- Labels of the time the food was stored
- Not using food after its expiration date
- Keeping the fridge and freezer from becoming overstuffed
Abiding by these things will ensure the shrimp is as fresh and safe as possible. However, the way the shrimp sashimi is prepared is just as important as properly storing it.
When preparing shrimp sashimi, you must be meticulous. The knives, cutting board, and any other tools or utensils must be designated for the shrimp. There should be no chance of cross-contamination during the process. These practices include any eating utensils, plates, and anything else that might come in contact with the shrimp.
The defrosting of frozen shrimp should occur in a cool environment between around 32°F and 39°F and remain there until the time of handling. Once touched, it should be prepared and served as quickly as possible without being frozen and defrosted again. There should also be a designated sink for washing purposes.
Another major component is personal hygiene. While it might sound obvious, it is very important. Not only can poor personal hygiene practices cause mayhem in the kitchen, but they can cause unintended cross-contamination. Therefore, ensure you keep your hands clean and follow any other necessary steps to keep things clean.
Getting Shrimp for Shrimp Sashimi
Now that you understand shrimp sashimi and how to ensure it is safe to eat, it is time to explore your options. There are a few different ways to get high-quality shrimp that is good enough for use as sashimi. The first is to find a company you trust that can provide you with fresh shrimp, which you can process and handle yourself.
Another option is to find sashimi-grade shrimp from one of many sellers that provide it. While sashimi-grade has no legal power, there is a certain expectation of quality that comes with the label. Of course, the more local the option, the better and safer the sashimi-grade or high-quality shrimp is likely to be.
There is no best answer when it comes to finding high-quality shrimp for sashimi. However, one company that is worth mentioning is Sun Shrimp. They do things a bit different from most, making their products uniquely suited for shrimp sashimi, among other things.
Why Sun Shrimp Stands Out
Most of the shrimp in the US is imported, but Sun Shrimp is different. They operate on an island located off the Southwest Coast of Florida, and they ship fresh shrimp anywhere in the US. Moreover, their process ensures that the shrimp they sell is perfect for anything, including shrimp sashimi.
First, Sun Shrimp carefully monitors their shrimp throughout its lifetime. They get their water from a deep well on the island, and the “biofloc” method they use ensures that the water is perfectly maintained. Because of that, the environmental risks that can make raw shrimp harmful are reduced to a minimum.
Additionally, Sun Shrimp does not use antibiotics or preservatives at all. Instead, they keep a close eye on the shrimp during their growth and then quickly process and ship them within hours of the shrimp being harvested. The result is fresh, healthy shrimp that is safe to eat. Moreover, the shrimp is even kept at a very low temperature after harvest.
Lastly, Sun Shrimp ships their products in tightly sealed packages that keep them isolated and free from cross-contamination right up until the moment you decide to use them. All of this comes together to make Sun Shrimp products some of the best you will find for shrimp sashimi.
Shrimp sashimi might sound unusual, but there is a reason it is considered a delicacy in many places. Shrimp are sweet and have a great texture, and when eaten as sashimi, it allows you to experience those qualities on a different level. However, just like any raw seafood, it requires strict conditions to be met to be safe.
Fortunately, there are ways to find high-quality shrimp that takes the guesswork out of the process. One example is Sun Shrimp, a company that does its utmost to deliver the healthiest and highest-quality shrimp available. So if you want to try shrimp sashimi, make sure you find shrimp that makes the experience as safe as possible.