What Fish to Buy for Sushi: The Ultimate Guide for Home Chefs

Hey there, sushi lover! Have you ever stood in front of the fish counter wondering, “What fish should I buy to make the best sushi at home?” With so many options, it can be tricky to know which fish are the top choices. But never fear – I’ve got the inside scoop for you!

There are several types of fish that can be used to make those irresistible sushi rolls. Here are some of the most popular and delicious options:

  • Tuna – This is the number one fish for sushi. You can choose from bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, bonito, and albacore. Tuna has a strong, meaty flavor.
  • Salmon – This is another sushi favorite, but be sure to freeze it first to kill any parasites. Go for wild-caught rather than farmed for better taste.
  • Yellowtail – Called hamachi in Japanese, this is a jackfish that many sushi fans love for its buttery, mild taste.
  • Snapper – A white fish with a firm texture and mild flavor. It works well in sushi.
  • Eel – Often cooked and glazed with a sweet-savory sauce. The rich flavor and tender meat make it a prime choice.
  • Mackerel – Called saba or aji in Japan, this fish has an oily texture and bold flavor ideal for sushi.
  • Octopus – The chewy, slightly sweet octopus pairs perfectly with rice and seaweed wraps.
  • Shrimp – Sweet, plump shrimp are delicious in sushi, cooked or raw.

Now you have the inside scoop on the best fish for making sushi at home! Let the sushi making begin. Oishī desu ne! (That’s “delicious” in Japanese!)

The Best Fish for Sushi

When it comes to sushi, these are the prime fish picks:


Tuna is hands-down one of the most popular fish used in sushi. Its firm, meaty texture and umami flavor make it a perfect addition to nigiri, sashimi, and rolls.

Types to look for:

  • Bluefin – The highest quality tuna with a buttery, rich taste
  • Yellowfin – More affordable but still has great flavor
  • Bigeye – Similar to yellowfin but a bit fattier and more flavorful
  • Skipjack – Budget-friendly option with a lighter taste
  • Albacore – Milder flavor but holds up well when cooked
  • Bonito – Stronger, fishier taste traditionally used for flakes

No matter what type you choose, tuna takes sushi to the next level.


Salmon is another go-to sushi fish. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a delicate, sweet flavor.

Opt for wild-caught salmon over farmed for the best taste and texture. Be sure to freeze salmon for at least 7 days before eating raw to kill any parasites.

With its vibrant pink-orange hue, salmon makes a beautiful nigiri or sashimi. It also pairs nicely with avocado, cucumber, and cream cheese in rolls.


Called hamachi in Japanese, yellowtail is a favorite for sashimi and sushi. It has a milder, sweeter flavor than tuna along with a smooth, buttery texture.

The tender meat holds up well to slicing and rolling without falling apart. Yellowtail is versatile enough to stand on its own or complement other ingredients.


A white, firm fish, snapper is a nice choice when making sushi at home. It has a delicate flavor that won’t overpower the fresh taste of the rice and seaweed.

Red snapper, in particular, has an ideal texture for nigiri and rolls. The mild taste also allows creative freedom to add other flavors like citrus, avocado, or roe.


While not raw, cooked eel is a popular sushi filling. It has a rich, savory-sweet flavor from being grilled and glazed with a special kabayaki sauce.

The tender, meaty eel contrasts nicely with the vinegared rice and nori. It pairs especially well with avocado and cucumber rolls.


An oily fish like mackerel has all the makings of excellent sushi. Bold in flavor with a soft texture, it stands up well to slicing and rolling.

Types like king mackerel (saba) and Spanish mackerel (sawara) work best. Their rich taste balances the neutral rice and vegetables.


While less common, octopus makes a nice addition to sushi. The chewy, sweet flavor and meaty texture complement the other ingredients.

For the best taste and texture, opt for small octopus like North Pacific. Be sure to slice it thin across the grain after cooking.


Sweet, plump shrimp are right at home in sushi. You can use either cooked or raw shrimp depending on your preference.

Opt for wild-caught or sustainably farmed shrimp for the best flavor. Peel, devein, and slice them into strips before adding to rolls.

Choosing and Preparing Fish for Sushi

Now that you know the best fish for sushi, let’s go over some tips for selecting and preparing them:

Pick the freshest fish possible – Look for bright, clear eyes, vibrant colors, firm flesh, and a mild, ocean-fresh scent.

Know your sourceBuy sushi-grade fish from a trusted fishmonger or market. Avoid questionable sources.

Slice it right – Use an extremely sharp knife to slice fish thin enough to roll easily. Cut at an angle against the grain.

Freeze first – Toxins like histamine in fish can cause illness. Freezing for at least 7 days kills parasites and bacteria.

Season simply – Avoid overpowering seasonings. A quick marinade in soy sauce, lime, or sesame oil is all you need.

Portion properly – Cut your fish into bite-sized pieces about 2 inches long for rolls and 1-2 inches for nigiri.

Chill completely – Return the sliced fish to the fridge until completely chilled before assembling sushi.

Ready to Make Sushi?

Now you’re ready to wow your taste buds with homemade sushi! Follow this guide to buy the right fish for rolls, nigiri, and sashimi.

Stick to top-quality tuna, salmon, yellowtail, snapper, eel, mackerel, octopus, and shrimp for foolproof results. Prep and slice the fish properly for the best texture and safety.

The secret’s out – you can totally make incredible sushi at home when you shop smart. So head to the market and grab some fresh fish. It’s time to get rolling!

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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