Sushi: it's healthy, delicious, fresh, and trendy. Seriously, I would probably eat a spicy tuna roll every day if I could. While a little avocado or cucumber here and there is great, it's really that piece of raw tuna or salmon that does the trick.
Although I rarely second-guess the safety of my food, it turns out that raw fish isn't always so safe. It's not like I'm eating sushi out of a sketchy gas station or anything, so I always figured that any place with "sushi grade fish" was good. But...what does sushi grade fish even mean? I did some research to find out the truth behind this title.
Sushi grade fish is actually somewhat a myth. There are no real, hard guidelines for what is considered "sushi grade", except for that according to the FDA, raw fish should be eaten only if it has been previously frozen. Freezing kills any parasites that could be present in the fish. All restaurants can use the label "sushi grade" if their fish abides by that rule.
Is that enough to not make a person sick, however? The scary thing about sushi grade fish is that freezing doesn't kill all harmful microorganisms. Therefore, no matter how "sushi grade" a fish is, you are still taking a risk by consuming it. The safest route is then evidently always to eat cooked fish.
Will I Eat Raw Fish Again?
Despite now knowing the latter disappointing information, I love raw fish too much to give up on tuna tartar or spicy salmon rolls. Therefore, I'm just going to have to risk it and eat only at high quality sushi restaurants that have "sushi grade" fish. Sushi grade is essentially the highest grade fish that a vendor is offering, so therefore of all raw fish, the consumer is supposed to feel the safest eating it. As I know now, however, I can never feel 100% sure that I won't get sick from eating raw fish, even at Nobu or Morimoto.