Shark meat, sometimes known as flake in Australia, has a complex history that spans the globe. While the practice of shark fishing is controversial due to the issues related to sustainability and shark finning, there are still places where eating shark is part of the culinary culture.
For example, in places like Iceland, Japan, and Australia, shark meat has been consumed for centuries, being used in traditional dishes that are a staple of their cuisines.
🔬What is Shark & What is it Made Of?
Shark meat comes from the muscular bodies of these marine predators. There are over 500 species of sharks, but only a small number are commonly eaten, including the mako, thresher, and dogfish sharks. The meat from these species is dense and flaky, made up of bundles of muscle fibers.
Sharks do not have a traditional bone structure but rather a skeleton made of cartilage, which is not typically consumed.
👅 What Does Shark Taste Like?
Shark meat is unique and distinctive in its taste and texture. It has a mild, sweet flavor somewhat akin to swordfish or tuna but tends to be denser and a bit more fibrous.
The taste can also vary depending on the type of shark, its diet, and the water it lived in.
❤️🩹 Is it Healthy?
In moderation, shark meat can be a healthy choice. It’s high in lean protein and also contains several essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin B12, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to support heart health.
However, it’s important to note that some sharks can contain high levels of mercury, and so should be consumed in moderation, particularly by vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and children.
💡 What is Shark Good For?
Shark meat’s unique characteristics make it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. Below are some of the top reasons for its culinary popularity:
1. Rich Protein Source
Shark meat is high in protein, comparable to other popular seafood like salmon or tuna. This makes it a fantastic option for those looking to maintain or increase their protein intake.
2. Distinctive Flavor
Shark meat has a distinctive taste that sets it apart from other seafood. Its mild, somewhat sweet flavor can be a refreshing change from the more familiar flavors of fish and can add an interesting twist to a variety of dishes.
3. Versatile Ingredient
Shark meat is incredibly versatile. Whether you prefer to grill, bake, broil, or fry your seafood, shark meat can be prepared using these methods and many more. It can be seasoned and marinated to suit a range of culinary styles and flavors.
4. Healthy Fats
Like many types of fish, shark meat contains omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial fats that support heart health. These healthy fats can contribute to a balanced diet and promote overall wellness.
5. Culinary Adventure
For those who love trying new foods and expanding their culinary horizons, shark meat offers an exciting and unique gastronomic experience.
6. Impressive Presentation
Given the size of many sharks, cuts of shark meat, like steaks, can make for an impressive presentation on a dinner plate.
🥘What is Shark Used For?
Shark meat is used in a wide range of dishes around the world. It’s often served as a primary protein, taking center stage in many meals. Here are a few examples:
Hákarl is a traditional Icelandic dish made from Greenland shark. The shark is fermented and hung to dry for several months, resulting in a strong, distinctive flavor that can be quite polarizing.
Australian Fish and Chips
In Australia, shark meat, known as flake, is a popular choice for the classic fish and chips dish. The firm, flaky texture of the shark makes it a great candidate for deep frying and provides a delicious contrast to the crispy batter.
In Japan, certain types of shark meat are used in the production of surimi, a fish paste that’s a common ingredient in a variety of dishes. One well-known example of a surimi-based product is imitation crab meat.
Grilled Mako Shark Steaks
Mako shark, with its firm texture and mild flavor, is often grilled like a steak. After marinating to enhance the flavor, it’s cooked until just opaque, offering a hearty main dish that’s a favorite at summer barbecues.
Shark Fin Soup
While the practice is controversial due to ethical and sustainability issues, shark fins have been used in a traditional Chinese soup. The fins themselves are relatively flavorless but provide a unique, gelatinous texture.
In coastal India, particularly in Kerala, shark is often used in curries. The meat is cooked with a mixture of spices, coconut milk, and other ingredients, resulting in a flavorful and aromatic dish.
In some Latin American countries, shark meat is used to prepare ceviche, a dish where the fish is ‘cooked’ in citrus juices and mixed with onions, cilantro, and other seasonings. This dish showcases the shark’s firm texture and subtle sweetness.