Whales can be classified as one of the largest mammals on earth. This aquatic creature lives in the ocean, and its physical size will bring awe to the minds of many. Whales are not only popular for being one of the biggest animals on earth. They are popular in some parts of the world for being a great addition to soups and stews.
In some culinary cultures, for example in Japan, whale meat is considered to be an exotic delicacy. As delicious as whale meat is, getting that experience might be quite hard, as many organizations and governments frown against hunting whales for food.
What does whale meat taste like? Whale meat is known to have a very chewy consistency, its taste and flavor are very much similar to beef and other meats. It is nothing compared to the other aquatic organisms out there.
Since whales live in the water, you would expect that they would taste like fish. However, whale meat does not taste like fish. The very few that have managed to taste whale meat have described it as something similar to moose or reindeer meat.
Dolphins and porpoises count as whales. Whale meat doesn’t have to come from a whale, it is a class of meat that refers to every mammal from the cetaceans family.
Nutritional Benefits of Whale Meat
Whale meat is quite rich in nutrients, for example, it is rich in high-quality protein. There are 8 kinds of amino acids that the body can not produce. These amino acids are regarded as essential amino acids. The stock of protein in whale meat contains all of these amino acids and more. It has an excellent balance between the quality and quantity of protein. Protein is essential for body and muscle building.
Whale meat has more iron content than any other animal-based source. Whale meat is usually red, the color is due to the presence of myoglobin that is present in muscle fibers. Myoglobin can be likened to Hemoglobin in human red blood cells. It contains iron, globin, and a simple protein. Iron plays a very important role in the human body. It helps to carry fresh oxygen to the body tissues and organs.
Anemia is a condition that may arise due to iron deficiency. This stresses the importance of iron in the body. Whale meat could help increase the intake of iron because it contains a lot of it.
Skin lesions are caused by a deficiency in a micronutrient known as Niacin. Whale meat contains a decent amount of that. You could say, regular consumption of whale meat would help to keep the skin rosy and good-looking.
Whale meat is what you call a nutrient-dense food item. It contains high amounts of beneficial nutrients and has a low-calorie count. Whale meat has a calorie count that is lower than that of pork or beef.
Whale meat that is procured from the unpolluted waters of the Antarctic is very safe.
Culinary Uses of Whale Meat
Whale meat isn’t something you could just ask for at a butcher’s shop or the grocery store. But if you do manage to get your hands on a cut of whale meat, what would you do with it?
Whale meat is exotic, but in some regions of the world like Iceland and Norway, it is hunted and eaten for sustenance because of meat scarcity. Japanese cuisine has the most interesting way of cooking and tending to whale meat.
Usually, Whale meat is cut into two portions; you have the belly meat, and tail meat. The belly meat is called onomi, and it is usually eaten as sashimi. The tail meat is also known as unesu and it is prepared as white bacon.
Japanese cuisine has a lot of dishes and recipes that require the use of whale meat. If you walk into any Japanese restaurant, you might find it on the menu although they tend not to advertise it because many people see the consumption of whale meat as something illegal.
In Norwegian cuisine, whale meat is cooked in a pot to create a unique broth. This broth is then served with vegetables and eaten with a traditional bread called flatbrod. Whale meat can be quite toxic, like every other marine carnivore out there, they contain toxic levels of mercury that could prove harmful for consumption.
What is the History of Whale Meat? How to Procure It?
Whale meat has been around in Japanese cuisine since 800 AD. Throughout the middle ages, whales were hunted in European waters for their meat and oil. The Catholic Church classified whale meat as fish so their followers could eat it during lent when they are not allowed to eat meat.
The demand for whale meat was high back then, their oil was used to keep lamps lit and create lighting at night. But soon enough, the European waters ran out of stock of whales. Whaling was very common back then and it became a very good trade.
In recent times, people have begun to frown on the consumption of whales as food. Demand trickled to almost zero and commercial whaling fell out of fashion. Now, whaling is only a common occurrence in countries like Japan, Iceland, and Norway. If you want to have a dish with whale meat in it, you might need to travel out of the country.
Is Whale Meat Legal to Eat in the United States?
No, it is not legal to eat whale meat. In the United States, whales are considered an endangered species so it is illegal to sell them or their meat. But in other countries, the rules might be different or more accommodating.
Fact You Don’t Know About Whale Meat
- The taste of whale meat can be compared to a gamey version of beef or maybe even venison, it just fits right in.
- Although it could be chewy, whale meat is way more tender than beef and it is easier to digest.
- Anti-whaling efforts have been put in place to disrupt commercial whaling and save the lives of these animals.