How to Tell if Sushi Is Fresh?

Last Updated on May 8, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Ensuring the freshness of sushi is crucial for both taste and safety while dining.

As a seasoned food writer and chef, I’ve learned firsthand the importance of knowing how to tell if sushi is fresh. 

In this article, we’ll explore six ways to determine if your sushi is fresh and safe to eat, as well as answer common questions about sushi quality and safety. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious and high-quality sushi every time.

6 Ways to Tell if Sushi Is Fresh

  1. Look at the fish: The fish should be bright and shiny, with clear eyes and vibrant colors. Avoid fish that looks dull or discolored.
  2. Smell the fish: Fresh fish should have a clean and mild smell, while bad fish will have a strong and unpleasant odor.
  3. Check the texture: The fish should be firm to the touch and not mushy or slimy.
  4. Look at the rice: The rice should be shiny and moist but not sticky or clumpy.
  5. Check the seaweed: The seaweed should be crispy and not soft or chewy.
  6. Taste the sushi: Fresh sushi should have a clean, light taste, with no off flavors or odors.

What Is Sushi-Grade Fish?

Sushi-grade fish is a term used to describe fish that is of high enough quality to be used in raw sushi. This fish is typically caught and processed under strict guidelines to ensure its freshness and safety for consumption. 

Sushi-grade fish is often sold at specialty seafood markets and is labeled as such.

Is Fresh Sushi Always the Best?

Not necessarily. While fresh fish is important for sushi, other factors, such as the quality of the rice, the skill of the chef, and the overall flavor profile of the dish, can also affect its quality. 

It’s important to choose a known and reputable sushi restaurant or supplier and to consider all aspects of the dish, not just its freshness.

Is Sushi Quality Determined by the Freshness of Fish Alone?

No, the quality of sushi is determined by a combination of factors, including the freshness and quality of the fish, the quality of the rice and other ingredients, and the skill of the chef. 

A good sushi chef will be able to balance all of these factors to create a delicious and high-quality dish.

Can Sushi Be Eaten Without Fish?

Sushi Roll on a Wooden Plate

Yes, there are many types of sushi that don’t contain fish, such as vegetable rolls, egg sushi, and tofu sushi. These can be just as delicious and satisfying as fish-based sushi.

What Are the Signs That Indicate Sushi Has Gone Bad?

Sushi that has gone bad will have a strong and unpleasant odor, a slimy texture, and a sour or off taste. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to avoid eating the sushi.

Are There Risks of Eating Bad Sushi?

Eating bad sushi can lead to food poisoning and other health problems. Raw fish can contain bacteria and parasites that can cause illness if not properly handled and prepared.

Can Eating Bad Sushi Make People Sick?

Yes, eating bad sushi can lead to food poisoning and other health problems. Symptoms of food poisoning from bad sushi can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

What Steps Can You Take To Avoid Having Bad Sushi at Home?

To prevent having bad sushi at home, it’s important to choose fresh and high-quality ingredients, handle them properly, and follow safe food handling and storage practices. 

When making sushi at home, be sure to use sushi-grade fish and follow proper preparation and storage guidelines.

How To Safely Store Leftover Sushi?

Leftover sushi should be stored in the refrigerator as soon as possible. To maintain its freshness, place the sushi in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours [1]. 

It’s best to consume leftover sushi as soon as possible to avoid any potential health risks.


As a chef and food writer, I know firsthand the importance of ensuring that sushi is fresh and safe to eat. By following the tips we’ve outlined in this article, you can easily determine if your sushi is of high quality and free from any potential health risks. 

Always remember to choose reputable sushi restaurants or suppliers, pay attention to all aspects of the dish, and follow proper food handling and storage practices. With these precautions in mind, you can enjoy delicious and safe sushi every time. 

Don’t let concerns about sushi quality and safety deter you from enjoying this beloved dish.


Lauren Beck
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