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You are watching: Are koi fish good to eat


In 1939, a fishy undergraduate bet in ~ Harvard caused the very first recorded “goldfish swallowing.”

Goldfish clearly aren’t commonly dinner, yet the prank captured on, causing a nationwide college campus heat of goldfish gulping as a famous thing to dare unsuspecting underclassmen come do.

Maybe you’re wondering how on planet someone can ever desire to eat a fish you would certainly otherwise uncover swimming roughly in a key or aquarium. Then again, perhaps you’re all of sudden eyeing your koi pond and starting to wonder if that’s really also possible.

Of course, koi ponds are lovely out fixtures, while koi themselves space prized fish in much of Asia.


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Gulping one down would be nice gauche, not to mention expensive, the most expensive koi deserve to go because that over a million pounds.

Still, suspect you aren’t eating your pet or dining on some of the world’s most expensive fish, the inquiry remains – deserve to you eat koi, and if so, how and also what is the like?

Koi 101

Of course, no all fish are created equal. That’s specifically true about koi, which are the result of century of breeding to produce fish that are well known for your grace, beauty, and especially your distinctive reddish-orange and also silvered speckled appearance.

Koi room closely associated with Japanese society in particular, come in an ext than 20 different varieties, and are symbolic of every little thing from love and wealth to luck and prosperity.

What’s more, they deserve to live for a lengthy time. Your typical goldfish tends to last just a few years, yet koi can live for more than a quarter century, rather a lengthy time in “fish years.”

Koi room freshwater fish, make them every the easier to save (and prepare cooking-wise, if you are so inclined). Ideally, these ponds should be a couple of feet deep.

They can eat whatever from birds to various other fish and even part fruit, and can grow to big sizes.

But go that mean you have the right to start “fattening up” her koi for your unfortunate well dining fate?

Koi space a specialized subspecies of a common eastern breed of carp, and contrary to what you might have review on the Internet, they room not poison, so yes, the is technically possible to eat them. Doing so would average eating miscellaneous that’s favor carp.

See my guide on the differences in between Koi and also other carp.

Of Koi and Carp


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Of course, that begs the question – space carp an excellent to eat in the an initial place?

If she an expert at recording or cooking fish (a actual “a-fish-ionado,” if you will) you’ve probably currently laughed this off like a wine snob gift asked around Two Buck Chuck.

As with this infamous type of wine, carp is detailed for gift inexpensive and also tasting favor a particular rearrangement the the letter in “carp” itself.

From tasting choose “mud” or “Pigs with Fins,” many of fishermen and also chefs have their own special method to “carping about” how bad carp tastes – however is that really fair?

Well, yes and no.

On the one hand, carp certainly isn’t the sort of fish you’d intend to be served at a well dining establishment. It is extremely usual in both Asia and the waters of Europe and North America, wherein it has actually been presented over the centuries as an invasive species.

That is component of the reason why carp have such a poor reputation amongst Western fish eaters in particular.

Remember as soon as we talked about how koi have the right to eat every little thing from birds to fruits to various other fish? Well, the old phrase “you room what you eat” certainly rings true here, as the taste that fish is in component dependent on what they’ve eaten, carp included.

That being said, because carp are an invasive species, they are often found in locations where they’re “not claimed to be,” which as you deserve to imagine isn’t specifically the finest situation because that them come be eating the type of points that room either nutritious or will bring out their full flavor.

Put simply, the reason so plenty of Western carp have actually that “muddy,” “oily,” or “trashy” taste is since that’s potentially component of what they’re eat in the atmospheres in i m sorry they have actually been introduced.

Carp is especially typical in lakes in the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern joined States, all areas where their numbers have surged due to their invasive nature.

This method that there are much more carp than these freshwater areas can possibly handle, and that the waters in i beg your pardon they room multiplying aren’t always the cleanest.

For example, Dr. Seuss alluded to Ohio’s once-filthy rivers in the initial version that The Lorax, v sad Seussian fish leaving “In find of part water the isn’t for this reason smeary. I hear things are just as negative up in Lake Erie.” While Seuss later on removed the line after Lake Erie came to be much cleaner, it isn’t hard to imagine how fish life in those kinds of problems probably nothing wind increase tasting the best.

By contrast, locations such together China and also Japan, where these fish are indigenous, frequently have much better climates because that these fish.

It isn’t together though these countries are free of polluted waters, however carp, consisting of koi, are lugged up in their very own waters and those habitats room in an excellent condition, the flavor deserve to be much better.

The exact same holds true because that those phone call carp in cleaner waters “the Queen the the Rivers” in the joined States.

The oily taste in this case comes much an ext from the fish’s herbal oils. Still, any method you slice it, carp still has actually a much tougher structure than plenty of other kinds of commonly-eaten fish.

The situation for eat Koi

By this point, you have the right to start to view why some human being might begin to wonder if koi fish are actually swim buffets in disguise. ~ all, while you don’t want to revolve your pets right into dinner, the conditions to carry out so space arguably far much better than v wild carp in some wild lakes and also rivers.

Instead the polluted waters, cramped confines, and poor food quality, koi ponds have cleaner water, an ext room to swim, and are commonly filled with much better food.

This has not gone unnoticed by some culinary traditions which exploit koi.

In particular, Bengali cuisine consists of tel koi, a well-known fish curry. It have the right to be all set in a selection of ways evoking east Indian culinary traditions.

Cooking koi is fairly easy, though v the tougher skin and texture it could take much longer than other fish. Still, when you have actually removed the inner organs, you can heavy steam or fry koi with ease. Cooking it for around 15 minutes need to be sufficient.

You may also want to add some herbs in addition to olive oil and oyster sauce come marinate it.

The instance for no Eating Koi


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All of that being said, however, it’s typically not recipient to revolve your koi pond right into an instant seafood free for all.

The fact of the matter is the while as carp her koi are edible, as many freshwater fish are, there room still plenty of reasons why you probably shouldn’t eat them.

For starters, it’s just “not done.” Koi room beautiful, majestic creatures – perform you really want to slaughter them, slather them with sauce, and serve lock on a plate?

Sure, swans room “technically edible” too, yet if you seriously argued killing and eating together majestic (not to mention expensive) creatures, you’d likely confront a huge degree of disgust and backlash.

The same goes for koi.

It is not thought about socially suitable by countless to eat the type of koi you keep in your pond.

Besides the truth that killing and also eating pets just looks awful, this koi are, again, a specialized subspecies, and also so space not typically connected with the typical edible carp come which castle are connected biologically yet not connotatively.

After all, the carp the is commonly caught in rivers is fairly dull in color and can watch pretty blasé. By contrast, together mentioned, the sort of koi we save in ponds are noted for their very beautiful speckled coats.

It is shallow to do decisions based upon looks, yet still, eating something therefore elegant and beautiful simply feels wrong.

Besides that, koi are, as stated above, carefully linked with Japanese culture.

Just together you wouldn’t fry up a fully eagle or beaver, and would know why one American or Canadian would certainly be infuriated if you did, death elegant pond koi could be viewed as culturally insensitive (to say the least) and insulting come Japanese people.

Final Thoughts

So, whereby does that leave united state on the issue of eat koi?

On the one hand, friend can certainly eat carp, the fish come which koi space related.

They may not have the world “cleanest” reputation and also will never be thought of together the ideal fish in the sea delicacy-wise, but properly fished and cleaned, they can make for an inexpensive and also possibly how amazing meal, particularly when served in classic Asian and also Indian dishes.

On the other hand, koi themselves no necessarily fit because that this. It’s just not proper, can be insulting, and also anyway the fish room so high value (whereas carp room pretty inexpensive) that it’s just not worth it.

See more: Differentiate Between Profit Maximization And Wealth Maximization

Most koi room too big for that “goldfish swallowing” prank anyway, however even if they weren’t, they’re probably best left to research the depths of her koi pond in peace.


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