Oh, Dallas. Something is fishy at our sushi restaurants. Katharine Shilcutt at the Houston Press has been digging through a new Oceana Study, and it doesn't say very nice things about the sushi we're eating.
That snapper you covet, sumptuously draped over carefully seasoned and packed rice, may very well be tilapia. The wild caught salmon the color of an early sunrise could be farmed and raised on fish feed, too. And those tuna rolls? Escolar. The study turned up fraudulent fish all over the country, but Texas was a particularly bad offender.
I'm having a harder time understanding the snapper and tilapia switch. I'm convinced the best description ever captured of tilapia was penned by former Observer critic Hanna Raskin, who called it the Wonder Bread of seafood. I realize that snapper is also mild in flavor, but customers not catching onto the switch more frequently surprises me.
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Of course with a little sake, some good conversation, a little too much soy sauce and wasabi and suddenly you're mixing up sardines and mackerel. (They're both oily, right?)
So what can you do? Unless you're pretty sharp, you may have to keep gambling and hoping that you're getting what you order. There's a morsel of hope in the story though. When asked about labeling, the author of the report mentioned sushi bars are terrible offenders "unless a customer asks a lot of questions."
Talk to your wait staff. Ask questions about what you should order and what you're eating. Convince them you're a customer that knows there's more to sushi than California rolls and hot boxed sake.
Or just order uni. I don't think there's anyway way a restaurant could fool you with that one.