The Era of Enjoying Authentic Sushi at Home: Innovations in the Frozen Sushi Market Frozen

Frozen sushi technology advancements have made it easier to enjoy authentic sushi at home. Traditional challenges of refrigerated storage, which makes the rice hard, and room temperature storage, which spoils the toppings, have been resolved by the latest freezing and thawing techniques developed by seafood wholesalers. This technology caters to a wide range of needs, including gift-giving, care facilities, and employee cafeterias, and is expected to boost fish consumption and increase the income of fishermen and wholesalers.

B&T Marine Products Company, based in Chiyoda, Tokyo, and founded by Suzu-Tomi, a tuna wholesaler at Toyosu Market in Koto, Tokyo, launched “Thawed Sushi with Hand-Warmed Rice” in May. This product uses carefully selected ingredients like domestic wild bluefin tuna, sea urchin and scallops from Hokkaido, and sea bream, all prepared by skilled sushi chefs. The sushi is rapidly frozen using a “3D freezing” technique, which cools it down to minus 40 degrees after preliminary cooling.

The sushi can be defrosted in a microwave, which is its biggest feature. President Tsutomu Suzuki developed and patented a special container. By adding water to the lower section and heating at 500 watts for two and a half minutes, then leaving it at room temperature for about 10 minutes, “the toppings remain fresh and moderately cold, while the rice is at body temperature, replicating 90% of the freshly made sushi,” according to Suzuki.

The company compared the frozen sushi to freshly made sushi at its “Tsukiji Suzutomi GINZA SIX” store. The tuna sushi, with its slightly warm rice, melts in the mouth, releasing the rich flavor and sweetness of medium fatty tuna. The lean tuna has a chewy, sticky texture with no drip, indistinguishable from fresh sushi. Although freshly made sea urchin sushi has a more distinct graininess, the frozen version maintains its shape well and has a rich, sweet sea flavor.

Priced at 5,500 yen for a pack of six pieces, it is costly but comparable sushi at their Ginza store costs around 9,000 yen. The product is available on the company’s online store, targeting special occasions and long-distance gift-giving. Suzu-Tomi, with over 60 years of experience since its Tsukiji days, believes that freezing technology can “enhance the value of fish and potentially transform the future of the fishing industry.”

Yamani Fisheries, a wholesaler in Sosa City, Chiba Prefecture, aims to revitalize the region with its frozen sushi. They developed “Boiled Clam Pressed Sushi,” using large local clams cooked in a sweet and savory sauce and quickly frozen on vinegared rice made from Chiba-grown Koshihikari. Consumers can defrost it at room temperature or with running water.

The product was pre-sold through crowdfunding and will be available on their website, “Yamani’s Kitchen,” from June. The company, having introduced Daybreak’s Art Lock Freezer in the fall of 2023, consistently sells about 40 types of frozen local fish gifts. “Freezing allows us to deliver the taste of the season nationwide. We hope consumers who enjoy our products will visit Sosa City,” says President Masaki Ito.

ONODERA Food Service, which operates the high-end sushi restaurant “Ginza Onodera,” is constructing a new frozen sushi factory in Ibaraki Prefecture, scheduled for completion in January-February 2025. They developed “Edo-style Frozen Sushi Ginza Onodera” with Daybreak, aiming to “bring the taste of Ginza to the whole country,” says Product Management Director Naoya Ishikawa.

The company began offering the same sushi ingredients as those in Ginza for catering services to nursing facilities and businesses’ meal services in the fall of 2023, ensuring safety from parasites like Anisakis due to freezing. “We refine the products based on feedback, such as elderly diners finding squid difficult to chew,” says Ishikawa. The new factory will have a production capacity of 8,000 pieces per day, and individual sales on the company’s online store will begin in 2025.

These initiatives not only enhance the value of fish through freezing technology but also hold potential for contributing to regional economic revitalization and sustainable development in the fishing industry.

 

 

Take it out of the freezer and fill container B with water up to the inner line.

Place container A, which contains the sushi taken out of the vacuum pack, on top of container B filled with water, and heat it in the microwave at 500W for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Take it out of the microwave, and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes with container A still on top of container B. Then it's ready to serve.

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