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Shark Meat! (The Ultimate Guide)
Have you ever wondered what shark meat tastes like? Maybe you’ve caught a shark before but were not sure what types of shark are good to eat, or even if you should eat them at all. In this article, I’m going to shed some light on whether or not this mysterious fish makes good table fare or not.
Can You Eat Shark Meat?
While some species of shark taste better than others, you can definitely eat most types of shark. The better tasting ones, include the Mako, Thresher, Sevengill, Soupfin, Leopard, Dogfish, Shovelnose, and Blacktip shark.
Knowing which sharks taste best is one thing, but it’s also important to know how to prepare and cook your shark if you decide to eat it. In this article, I’ll cover all of this and more.
The Best Type of Shark To Eat
As I mentioned before, there are several species of shark that taste better than others. The most common types of shark that are best for eating are:
Out of these, I personally think that the Mako tastes best, however, since I live in Florida, I more often have Blacktip for dinner, since it’s much more common in these waters.
What Does Shark Meat Taste Like?
As far as texture and taste, I think shark meat tastes a lot like Swordfish. It’s firm and has an almost sweet taste to it if prepared right.
Sometimes when eating Blacktip, I swear it almost taste like lobster.
With that being said, I’ve heard that if you fry your shark, it can sometimes taste a little more like chicken or even alligator.
Not sure about that, since I rarely fry any fish that I catch!
As long as you prepare your shark meat right, it should taste good whatever way you decide to cook it! I mean, you really can’t go wrong with something tasting like Swordfish, lobster, gator or chicken can you?
Is Shark Meat Good or Bad For You?
Some people will try and tell you that eating shark is bad for you. They claim that due to their high mercury levels, eating too much can be hazardous to your health.
Let me just say that while it’s true that shark meat has high levels of mercury, you would have to eat a ton of it before it would be dangerous.
Grilling a shark steak once in a while is nothing to worry about!
However, if you are concerned about the mercury levels that can be found in shark meat, as long as you eat it in moderation, all should be fine.
Where Can You Buy Shark Meat?
If you don’t plan on going fishing for shark anytime soon, but would still like to try some, you have several options to buy shark meat.
Local Seafood Market
First, check with your local seafood market. While they may not have fresh shark meat on hand, they will usually have some frozen shark steaks available.
Just the other day I stopped by my local market looking for some Mako, however, all they had was frozen Atlantic Blacktip shark meat for sale.
While it wasn’t the fresh Mako that I was hoping for, it was still very good!
Online Seafood Retailer
Another option is to order your shark online from a seafood retailer. I haven’t tried this, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving any recommendations. But a quick search online should provide you with a list of online retailers. Let me know how this works out for you so I can share it here!
How to Prepare Shark Meat For The Table
If you purchase your shark from a seafood market, then there’s nothing that you’ll need to do other than marinade it and apply your favorite seasonings.
Clean The Shark Immediately
On the other hand, if you catch your shark, it’s vital that you reel it in and clean it as soon as possible! The reason being is that as a shark gets tired, it releases more lactic acid and carbon dioxide in its blood and muscles, which can affect the taste of the shark meat.
Ammonia Can Spoil Shark Meat
However, the biggest culprit to spoiling the taste of the meat is the ammonia taste that can be left behind if not properly cleaned.
As a shark deteriorates the urea in their blood begins to turn into ammonia which then gets absorbed in the flesh and expelled through its skin. In other words, sharks basically urinate through their skin.
Bleed, Clean and Put on Ice
This is why it’s so important to bleed and clean a shark that you intend on eating as soon as you reel it in. Keep in mind that if you’re on a boat, by law you are not supposed to clean your catch until you get back to the boat ramp.
However, it’s perfectly okay to gut it out and sever part of its tail in order for it to bleed out. Once you do this, toss it in the cooler on ice until you are able to finish cleaning it.
Soak The Shark Meat
Once you have your shark cleaned, its now time to soak it in either buttermilk or lemon juice. This process will ensure that there is no ammonia taste left in the meat. As far as which one works best, it’s really a matter of preference.
I personally like soaking mine in lemon juice! Not only does it give it a hint of lemon, but it also takes less time. Depending on the size of your shark steaks, you can usually have a shark ready for the grill in less than 30 minutes.
When you soak it in buttermilk, you will need to let it soak for about 24 hours just to be sure all the ammonia taste is gone.
How to Clean and Fillet a Shark
So now that you know what you should do after catching a shark, check out this short video that shows you how to clean and fillet your shark.
Best Way to Cook Shark Meat
One of the things that I like most about shark meat is that there are numerous ways to prepare it. Because of the firmness of the meat, it does extremely well on the grill, as well as blackened on the stove, or broiled in a pan of butter. Heck, you can even deep fry it like catfish if you want to.
My favorite way to cook shark is on the grill!
On The Grill
I start by marinating it for about 30 minutes in a mixture of lemon juice, orange juice, soy sauce, minced garlic, and cilantro. I’m sorry, but I don’t have the exact measurements for each of these ingredients. I sort of cook by taste. However, if you need a recipe, you can check out this link. I would just omit the ketchup. Also, make sure not to marinade in any type of citrus juice for too long as the acid can begin to cook the fish.
Once marinated, season with some salt and pepper and toss on the grill for about 3-4 minutes per side depending on the size of the shark.
Keep in mind that shark meat has very little fat content, so it’s very easy to dry it out by overcooking it.
A little trick that I like to do is drizzle some of the leftover marinade over it while on the grill to add some moisture to the steaks.
What About Shark Fin Soup?
Ethics of Harvesting Shark Meat
While shark fin soup is extremely popular in some Asian cultures, it is typically frowned upon here in the United States. In fact, there are a number of states who have actually gone as far as banning the sale of shark fin products. These states include California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.
While this doesn’t mean that if you catch a shark, you can’t make your own shark fin soup, I wouldn’t recommend it.
It seems that the process of cleaning the fins and preparing them for consumption is a real pain in the butt. I’ve also heard that the fins only provide texture for the soup and really have no taste of their own.
With that being said, I’m in no way condoning the practice of harvesting sharks strictly for their fins and discarding the rest of the shark. I’m simply pointing out that if you catch a shark and decide to keep the WHOLE shark to eat if you so desired, you could try and make your own shark fin soup.
Hopefully, I’ve answered the question as to whether or not you can eat shark, and if it even tastes all that good. This mysterious fish of the sea deserves respect both in the water and at the dinner table!
So, the next time you reel one in or see them for sale in your local seafood market, why not give them a chance? I know that once you try it, you’ll be asking yourself why you waited so long!
Have you ever eaten shark before? Do you have a favorite kind or maybe a favorite recipe for cooking it?
If so, I would love for you to share it with us below in the comments section!