You’ve probably seen Shark Week, the Discovery Channel’s annual showcase of nature’s most powerful predators, and you may have eaten shark meat without even knowing it. If you’ve ever ordered fish sticks or consumed surimi (a type of imitation crabmeat), there’s a chance you ate some shark meat. But can you eat shark meat? Is shark edible? The short answer is yes; many species of sharks are considered to be excellent table fare, especially the liver and the fins, which are served as appetizers in Japanese restaurants around the world.
Do people eat sharks in other countries? Well, shark is a delicacy in many countries where seafood is a staple. In fact, sharks have been around for millions of years, meaning they’ve evolved to eat whatever’s handy. Sharks aren’t picky and when they eat, they don’t chew – so neither should you! The meat is flaky and succulent with a subtle taste of fresh ocean water.
Even if you like fish, shark meat is worth a try for a unique culinary experience. Plus, it’s an easy way to cook something different at home. If you want to get creative with your meal prep, why not slice up your favorite cuts of steak into small strips and serve them as carpaccio? Carpaccio comes from Northern Italy, where some restaurants served raw meat over arugula (the name means little turnip in Italian).
Though carpaccio isn’t typically served without a spread such as olive oil or balsamic vinegar, shark could be paired with lemon juice and capers to mimic more traditional flavors while also keeping things interesting.
Is Shark Good to Eat for Your Health?
Can you eat shark meat as a healthier alternative? Yes, you can. With its high levels of protein and omega-3s, shark meat can be a healthy addition to your diet. However, unless you’re consuming it as part of a specialized diet like Paleo or Whole30, it’s not going to contribute positively to your overall health.
While some fish are on dirty dozen lists, meaning they have high amounts of mercury and should be eaten with caution, shark isn’t one of them. If you do decide to try eating shark meat because you enjoy it or want more protein in your diet, there are other things you should know. Can you eat shark raw? Unlike most fish, which aren’t typically served raw, shark must be consumed cooked in order to avoid sickness.
The jury is still out on whether shark meat is safe to eat. Most scientists seem to think it’s perfectly fine, as long as you buy your shark from a reputable dealer. In addition, be careful about where you decide to purchase your shark. It can make a big difference in its safety and quality.
And remember, if it’s doubtful or unsafe, just don’t do it! A great alternative would be serving skate wings instead of shark at your next event. No one will know but you’ll feel better about supporting sustainable fishing practices.
Is It Expensive to Eat, Prepare, and Buy?
Can you eat shark meat without spending a ton of money? A lot of people are afraid to eat shark because they think it’s too expensive and too hard to find. But that really isn’t true at all.
Shark meat, like most seafood, is very affordable. In fact, shark meat can cost even less than some chicken! And in many places around the world where people eat a lot of seafood (such as Japan), fresh or frozen shark can be easily found.
It’s common in these countries to find it served in a restaurant or sold in local fish markets and stores. Shark meat is also relatively easy to prepare: if you know how to grill food or cook fish, then you’ll know how to cook shark!
How Do I Get Started Eating Shark Meat?
Before you decide to eat shark, it’s a good idea to plan out how you want to approach your shark-eating experience.
If you’re planning on taking a bite out of some endangered species, that might not be so easy. But if not, there are plenty of approaches.
First, figure out where in your area you can buy fresh or frozen shark meat; how much is it going to cost; and who would be able to cook it for you (e.g., will chefs or restaurants take special orders for exotic foods?). Once those questions are answered, decide when and with whom you want to try your first bite.
What Does Shark Taste Like?
Is shark meat good? Because sharks don’t have blubber, they aren’t as fatty as other fish. As a result, shark meat tends to be white with a mild taste. The more oily species of shark (such as mackerel and blue sharks) are described as having a fishy flavor that may be too overpowering for some tastes.
In general, however, it’s believed that shark meat has an enjoyable flavor with a texture like that of chicken. Like many types of seafood, it has more mercury than lean white meats such as chicken and pork so moderation is important if you do decide to try it out!
Sharks don’t taste like chicken. They have a unique flavor profile that’s difficult to describe but similar to mackerel, snapper, or tuna (similar to fishy fish in general).
It’s also worth noting that shark meat is high in fat. An 8-ounce serving of mako shark contains roughly 33 grams of fat, 13 grams of which are saturated. That may sound bad, but we don’t actually have much information about how these fats affect our bodies when consumed.
Some experts believe omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may improve heart health (hence their reputation as healthy fats), while others say they should be avoided because they contribute to heart disease and atherosclerosis.
More research needs to be done. In other words, it could make sense for some people to avoid eating too much shark but it certainly doesn’t need to be an across-the-board rule.
So, can you eat shark meat? Of course, you can. What sharks can you eat? If you’re determined to eat it anyway, go for smaller varieties like mako and thresher sharks; avoid larger species like blue sharks and great whites as well as soupfin and smooth dogfish (which aren’t considered safe by government regulators due at least in part to contamination with mercury).
Bottom line: If you want shark meat again someday, go ahead and try it!