What Is Halal Sushi?
Halal sushi is a type of Japanese cuisine that meets strict Islamic laws concerning the preparation of food and what food can and cannot be consumed. Halal sushi is a series of small dishes containing one or two beds of rice with fish, vegetables or other meats placed atop them. Such halal sushi dishes are typically served unadorned with the option of adding soy sauce later.
Food that is permitted under Islamic law is called ‘halal,’ while food that cannot be consumed is called ‘haram.’ Haram food includes blood products, all pork products, alcohol and carrion. Any animals such as sheep and cows must be slaughtered according to Islamic tradition.
The status of seafood is open to discussion amongst Muslims. Some believe that all seafood is halal, while others believe that only fish is halal and the rest is haram. Muslims who are unsure should consult their local Imam. What halal sushi is indeed halal will depend on a particular Imam’s opinion.
Traditional sushi consists of raw fish such as tuna, salmon and bream placed upon a bed of sticky Japanese rice. These may or may not be surrounded by a wall of dry seaweed paper known as ‘nori.’ These sushi are then sub-divided into two types: those with wasabi and those without. Wasabi is a spicy paste made from horseradish that some Japanese believe kills any worm eggs in the raw fish. Sushi may also be lined with nori and then rolled to create a sushi roll.
One of the most common types of sushi in Western countries is the California Roll. This sushi contains cucumber, rice, avocado and crab meat and should be considered halal for most Muslims. The same goes for most sushi containing dashimaki egg and other vegetables.
Where some sushi might not be considered halal is when they contain seafood such as clams and oysters. Another point of contention would be the presence of fish eggs in the sushi. If a Muslim is in doubt about the status of such food, he or she should avoid it, however, many restaurants are springing up across the world that offer certified halal sushi and these can normally be trusted.
Other factors to bear in consideration are the oils in which the sushi is cooked. Most rice does not require any oil beyond water and the raw fish does not require any cooking at all and should, therefore, be halal. Any cooked meats, including fish, should not be cooked in animal fat oil, but rather in vegetable oil to ensure they remain halal sushi.
Sushi is not halal because the rice and sometimes the fish too, is marinated with rice vinegar. Rice vinegar is something made from rice wine. It's fermented rice and it contains alcohol. As everyone knows, alcohol is not permissible in Islam.
I don't know what halal sushi restaurant use. But as far as I know, all sushi is made using this type of wine vinegar. So sushi is not halal, not because of the fish, but because of this ingredient that is always used for marination.
@fBoyle-- You should check with an expert like an imam about this. As far as I know, sushi made of raw fish is acceptable. As you said, all fish is halal and no specification has been made about cooking it. So I think it is okay but check with someone who knows more about this topic. I don't want to mislead you because I don't have enough knowledge.
The real controversy seems to be about sushi that contains meat from other sea creatures such as crab. Some schools of thought believe that sea creatures aside from fish are haram. And yet others believe that they are halal as well.
Care must also be taken with the flavorings and sauces used with the sushi. Some restaurants that serve sushi may also prepare pork dishes and contamination is something else to consider. Eating from a halal sushi restaurant would be best but that's not always available.
I know that all fish are haram. There is no doubt about that. What concerns me about sushi is that it contains raw fish. Does it being raw affect the halal status of the fish?
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