Does preparing fish as Gravlax or Ceviche kill parasites? If curing fish using these techniques, do the same rules apply as they do with Sushi and Sushi Grade Fish?

by Esther

So, I'm making gravlax and wonder if the curing process provides any additional protection.

There seems to be some confusion in the blogosphere and since you have conveyed the most exacting information I am looking to you for clarification. Almost every recipe calls for 'sushi-grade' salmon without mentioning that that is a marketing term as I have learned from your post, and there are really no rules. That makes me suspicious of the entire post and how much research the writer has put into the topic.

Does making ceviche (marinating fish in citrus acid) different from salt curing chemically? Is there a different end result from marinating in citrus for a few minutes vs a several day salt cure result in any chemically significant (as opposed to a culainary tase) difference? Is the level of protection from bacteria or paracites different?

Just curious.....


Comments for Does preparing fish as Gravlax or Ceviche kill parasites? If curing fish using these techniques, do the same rules apply as they do with Sushi and Sushi Grade Fish?

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Oct 07, 2015
by: Regina Printup

It is pretty price sufficient for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made just right content as you probably did, the internet will be a lot more helpful than ever before.

Jun 21, 2015
Very Good Questions Esther...
by: David-allaboutsushiguide

Hello Esther,
Thank you for your submission. I have to admit, I understand your confusion since gravlax and ceviche use marinating and curing techniques that have been used for centuries, yet rarely is anything addressed regarding their ability to kill parasites.

First, I have to admit I am not an expert with either method. However, I have some "ideas" or suggestions to try to insure your safety when making either of these.


My understanding with ceviche is that it is a citric based form of marinating that can last as little as a few minutes. In this case, I would make sure to purchase "sushi grade fish" from a reliable fish monger, grocery store or online fish source where the fish has been processed to eradicate any bacteria or parasites. And then I would treat it like you would sashimi or sushi and consume it as soon as you prepare it. If you were to decide to "marinate" the fish for longer than a few minutes, I would place it in a refrigerator but would not exceed more than a few hours (although fresh sushi grade fish should still be safe the next day). Also, nowhere have I seen where it said that a citric based marinade will kill all bacteria and parasites.


I guess the big question here is does salt curing kill bacteria and parasites. My understanding is that in most cases no. Or at least it was not a guarantee. I did read in one college study that they had some success after salting for 7 to 14 days.

Again, here I would opt to get sushi grade fish (I know its just a term, but the key is to make sure the provider guarantees that the fish has been handled by freezing to eradicate all bacteria and parasites). This will at least insure that you are safe from that standpoint and anything else that you do (whatever curing process or duration you follow) won't have anything to do with any bacterial or parasitic issues.

Do keep in mind that according to the FDA certain species are known to possibly carry certain bacteria and/or parasites (salmon being one) and also that there are certain species of fish that are scombrotoxin forming species (time/temperature abuse, tuna being one here) that can cause illness also. I do not know what affect citrix marinating or salt curing will have on scombrotoxin poisoning. I know that scombrotoxin poisoning cannot be eliminated by cooking, so a citrix marinade or salt probably won't work for that either. With scombrotoxin however, we are at the mercy of the fish handlers. The key here is to find a reliable source for your fish and not just pick it up willy nilly anywhere it pops up in some random grocery store :-)

I hope this helps you in some way.

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