Debunking the Myths - facts about eating sushi when you're pregnant.

Considering the fact that our club (the Sushi Club of Houston) has more than 6,000 registered members, it's safe to say that approximately 50% (or more) of our membership is female.  And as you can imagine (from time to time), a sushi club member regrettably informs us that she'll have to stop eating sushi for a while because she's pregnant.  While we couldn't be happier for the soon-to-be mom, we're even happier to dispel the myth!  Just as dozens of other falsehoods have been created over time, the never-ending squabble between sushi and expecting moms has surfaced to become a matter of 'public knowledge.'  But, in reality, the truth is confused with fragments of fiction.

The big mistake - 'Sushi is raw fish.'  Nope.  In fact...way off!  Sushi and raw fish are not one in the same.  Sushi is defined as 'the combination of vinegared rice and another ingredient.'  The very definition of sushi itself has nothing to do with raw fish.  That's merely a misunderstanding that's continuously (and erroneously) encouraged by people who simply don't understand it.  So it's best to get that entire notion out of your head right now.  When you think of 'sushi,' think of sushi rice...never define sushi as 'raw fish.'

Now here's where the truth comes into the picture - Pregnant gals should avoid eating raw fish.  Why?  Because the slightest ingestion of a food-borne parasite can cause complications for would-be moms.  Although only a serious ingestion of parasites in her tummy can cause an alarming condition for the baby, a mom's immune system is lowered during pregnancy.  Therefore, if she finds herself struggling with nausea or other forms of tummy problems, she isn't likely to bounce back as fast.  Therefore, it's best to stay away from raw fish to play it safe.  That's a fact.  Additionally, it's best (when pregnant) to avoid fish that contains concentrations of mercury (such as tuna and mackerel) and fish roe (also known as caviar and tobiko).

Here's the good news - sushi doesn't have to include raw fish!  In fact, there are lots of sushi-related menu items that contain cooked fish, fresh vegetables and fried seafood.  Here are great examples which are found at most sushi establishments:

Traditional Nigiri Sushi

Unagi Nigiri: Cooked, fresh water sea eel.
Anago Nigri: Cooked, salt water sea eel.
Tamago Nigiri: Cooked, sweetend egg.
Shrimp Nigiri: Known as ebi - boiled shrimp.
King Crab Leg Nigiri: Boiled King Crab leg.

Common and Traditional Sushi Rolls
Shrimp and Avocado Sushi Rolls: Made with boiled shrimp & fresh avocado.
Cucumber rolls: known in Japan as Kappa maki.
Avocado Rolls: Soft, yet firm slices of fresh avocado.
Shrimp and Asparagus Rolls: Boiled shrimp combined with crispy asparagus.

Popular Fusion Sushi Rolls
Caterpillar Rolls:  Unagi and Avocado with a sweetned eel sauce.
Spider Rolls:  Soft-shell crab made with cucumber and avocado.

Great Sushi Roll Recommendations in Houston for Expecting Moms:

Kubo's Sushi Bar & Grill's Kubo's Roll.

A great menu item that's delicious, simple and remarkably reasonable on the pocket book - fried shrimp, spicy mayo and sprinkled with colored tobiko.  Merely request 'no tobiko'  and you've got yourself a great sushi roll that's pregnancy-safe.

Kata Robata's Shitake Nigiri, Veggie Sushi.

Kata Robata provides a fantastic assortment of veggie sushi for your convenience.  In fact, their Veggie Sushi Assortment is perfect for 'Expecting Mommies.'

Redfish Seafood Grill's Happy Roll.

The Happy Roll, at Redfish Seafood Grill, is a great roll - including shrimp tempura, jalapeno, cream cheese, masago and mayo.  Merely ask the wait staff to remove the masago for a great, pregnancy-safe sushi roll!

Jack William Roll.

The Jack William Roll is a fantastic combination of tempura veggies, fresh avocado and snow crab, topped with seared beef ribeye, leeks and sprinkled with a citrus soy dressing.


Although it goes without saying, an expecting mom should always do three things before ordering and eating sushi:

1.  Inform the wait staff and/or sushi chef that you're pregnant before you order.  This is a big help to the restaurant.  It's a lot easier to ensure that they make you a great sushi meal knowing your dietary situation in advance.  Telling them after the sushi has arrived at your table forces them to back peddle, apologize for no reason and re-create your meal.

2.  When you order your sushi (especially sushi rolls), always ask if it contains any raw fish or raw seafood.  Sometimes, merely as an oversight, a sushi chef might make a 'pregnancy-friendly roll' and top it with masago or tobiko (fish eggs - aka caviar).  If you're trying to avoid raw fish, it's best to ensure that fish eggs aren't included.

3.  Sit at the sushi bar and speak directly to the chef.  Since he's making your sushi rolls, it's best to communicate with him directly.  He might have some interesting options that you might have not considered.

4.  Depending on your dietary concerns, check with your doctor.  Although we love the idea of all pregnant women enjoy sushi, it's best to ensure that other issues (such as allergies and mercury consumption) is considered before you begin making sushi lunches an 'everyday thing.'