Most home cooks are well aware of the basic rules of food safety, including the rule of thumb when it comes to raw proteins: just don’t eat it. From eggs to undercooked chicken, in many cases, raw food equals food-borne illnesses. However, when it comes to salmon, the standard rules don’t always apply.
Is it Safe to Eat Raw Salmon?
Yes, it is safe to eat raw salmon if the salmon is flash-frozen.
That being said, there is still a risk of consuming raw salmon. While the risk of becoming ill from eating raw fish is very low, the risk does still exist and increases if the fish is not handled properly.
Foodies are familiar with raw salmon. From sushi to ceviche, raw salmon shows up on many restaurant menus. But is raw salmon safe?
While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration advises home cooks to cook all seafood thoroughly, the USDA also recommends you never eat raw eggs — a rule that many batter bowl-licking home cooks have thrown out the window. So when it comes to answering the question “is salmon safe to eat raw,” home cooks will have to take their personal risk aversion into account.
Eating raw fish comes with risks of parasites, bacterial infections and viral infections — but those risks are very low. According to one Food Network report, even for those who do experience an infection, the symptoms are usually very mild and hardly noticeable. So, for many foodies and home cooks, eating raw salmon is a risk they’re more than willing to take.
The Pros and Cons of Eating Raw Fish
But for those who do choose to eat raw salmon, there are a few benefits of eating raw fish beyond simply the taste.
Raw fish is lower in certain contaminants and carcinogens that sometimes result from the cooking process. Raw fish can also contain higher amounts of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
As for the cons, yes, there is that risk of a parasite or infection, but it's not a large enough risk to stop even doctors from enjoying their regular sushi. That's partially thanks to one important safety precaution that many restaurants and fish retailers take, in order to ensure their raw salmon is safe to eat: flash-freezing.
How to Know if Salmon is Safe to Be Eaten Raw
There’s one sure way to know if salmon is safe to be eaten raw, and that’s if the fish is flash-frozen and then stored at a low temperature for an extended amount of time. Freezing salmon at -4 degrees Fahrenheit or below for several days, or -31 degrees Fahrenheit or below for 15 hours will effectively kill all parasites.
Ask your fish seller if their salmon is flash-frozen before selling. If the answer is “yes,” then you can safely assume that there’s no risk of discovering any parasites in your fish.
Beyond this, though, if you’re unable to speak directly with your seller to ask about their process, and you don’t have a flash freezer at home, and since most residential freezers aren’t capable of producing such low temperatures, there are few ways to determine if your salmon isn't ideal for eating raw.
Before purchasing your raw salmon, look for any bruising or discoloration. Give it a poke and see if it’s firm to the touch. Sniff for any alarming odors. Any or all of these could be signs of an undesirable fish fillet. Specifically look for salmon labeled as “for raw consumption”, “sushi grade” or “sashimi salmon.”
Once you’ve purchased your raw salmon, keep it properly refrigerated until you’re ready to prepare it. Then, after preparation, refrigerate the raw salmon again, until you’re ready to serve. Throughout the preparation process, be sure to keep all kitchen surfaces and utensils clean and sanitized.
BONUS: Easy At-Home Raw Salmon Recipes
If you’re ready to take your cooking skills to the next level and to bring the sushi experience home, you can make raw salmon dishes in your own kitchen, safely, with the help of a few easy recipes.
1. Salmon Tartare
One of the easiest raw salmon dishes to make, salmon tartare is a colorful, flavorful appetizer that comes together in a snap! It’s perfect for serving at dinner parties or just when you want to impress or treat yourself and your family.
This recipe combines fresh salmon fillet with smoked salmon for a bold flavor that works perfectly served with your favorite crackers or toast, and it only requires 20 minutes of prep time.
2. Salmon Sashimi
You may be most familiar with raw salmon when you enjoy it at your favorite sushi restaurant. If you've never made sushi or sashimi at home, though, don’t be intimidated. This easy salmon sashimi recipe only takes two steps and less than half an hour.
3. Salmon Poke Bowl
Poke bowls have been a trendy menu item for a few years and if you want to make your own at home, it’s as simple as following one of our favorite salmon poke bowl recipes. It combines raw salmon with brown rice and greens for a complete, tasty, one-bowl meal.
The Highest-Quality Raw Salmon
Regardless of how you enjoy preparing and eating raw salmon, you can find the highest-quality and freshest fillets from us. The same fillets you’ll find in fine restaurants around the country, our Copper River salmon arrives at your doorstep ready for your family to enjoy. But don’t wait — Copper River salmon is only available for a few select months during the summer. Last year, our Copper River salmon supply sold out in just three weeks.