On The Not About Food Board, a recent thread touched on how salmon is prepared in sushi bars. I was shocked and surprised to read three knowledgeable posters write that salmon in sushi bars is fresh. Of course, standard sushi bar salmon is always cured and/or lightly smoked. But it got me to thinking why some 'hounds would believe that it was fresh, and I came up with two solutions:
1) Since much sushi fish is raw and things like salmon and mackerel (neither of which is fresh) are displayed next to raw items and, like those items, are not heated, a customer may just assume that it is all equally raw. In fact, good friends of mine actually bought fresh mackerel once from a fish market and tried to eat it raw. They got so sick that it became a joke among us for years. Again, these friends had no idea what raw mackerel would taste like, and assumed that the flavors in the sushi fish were the natural flavors of raw mackerel.
2) But I think the most important reason is that many Americans don't know how to properly eat sushi. For years after I was introduced to sushi, I ate sushi the way most other Americans do. I would mix together large quantities of wasabi into a small bowl of soy sauce until I had a little bowl of greenish black gunk. Then I would proceed to drown the sushi in this sauce. Since wasabi and soy sauce taste good together, the drowned sushi fish tasted good too, but honestly I couldn't tell suzuki from hirami, and the tuna, though red in color, tasted about the same. In other words everything I ate tasted mostly like wasabi and shoyu. Only in the last few years have I learned to use shoyu and wasabi sparingly, and now I can taste the nuances of each fish. I don't claim to be any expert, and I wonder what the rest of you think.