I've been trying to prepare raw salmon sushi at home for the past few months, both nigiri and sashimi-style. The salmon I've eaten, however, definitely tastes different from what I can buy at the local Japanese sushi bars. I've done some blind taste testing with help from a friend and we've concluded that there is something definitely different about the Japanese sushi bar's salmon (and I'm not buying the smoked salmon either).
So far I've tried salmon from:
Nijiya Market in San Jose: Tastes Raw
Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley: Tastes Raw
Oto's Marketplace in Sacramento: Still Raw!
Premade Salmon maki from Nugget Grocery: Tastes raw (damn supermarkets)
Safeway Salmon nigiri: Raw
Most sushi buffets: Raw Raw Raw
Most other Japanese restaurants: Salmon has a smooth, pleasant flavor. Can have a buttery, sometimes sweet taste. Not cooked or cured.
Clearly, I'm missing some secret to preparing good raw salmon. It's not the sushi rice, I'm sure of it. I suspect there might be some vinegar/sugar combination. On a few occasions, I've asked sushi chefs working behind the counter but I've only received smiles and responses of "we prepare out salmon in a special way" responses. Can any chef lend me some pointers?
- A mistake: I actually meant Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose, not Nijiya.
- I've heard of some techniques to get the salmon I'm looking for (using kosher salt to brine the salmon, choosing a specific species of salmon) but without details I feel like a 17th century alchemist who experiments on himself.
- When I've tried the premade salmon sushi at Japanese grocery stores, it actually tastes just fine. Just not the sashimi-grade salmon they stock right next to it.
- I've also made tuna and hamachi sushi which tastes just fine. Which leads me to believe that salmon sushi is a state secret and renegade sushi chefs are tracked down and silenced by a shadowy government agency.