Few animals in the world are as aptly named as the starfish, a rather attractive creature that is spread throughout most of the world’s oceans.
You’ve probably seen dried starfish in many gift shops, but did you know that you can actually eat these fish if you prepare them properly?
Probably not, because starfish may not always be available in many parts of the world. However, it is possible to catch, clean, cook, and eat starfish and get a surprisingly tasty meal.
That said, there is a danger of just grabbing starfish out of the ocean and trying to prepare them yourself.
What Are Starfish?
Starfish are very common echinoderm sea creatures that may also be called sea stars, brittle stars, or basket stars. They have a star shape with five arms around a center mouth region.
There are many different species of starfish, all with different colors and sizes, though they typically retain the star shape.
Starfish are one of the most common creatures under the sea and are a very important part of their environment.
They not only help control the population by eating various creatures but are common prey animals for many other larger predators. This gives them an important role in maintaining their ecosystem.
What Do Starfish Taste Like?
Starfish taste is rather mild and is often compared to river crabs and other similar creatures. They do have a slight saltiness or bitterness that connects them heavily with their ocean environment.
Starfish also has a somewhat bitter aftertaste that may take some time to adapt to eating.
As you might expect, cooking methods will affect how starfish taste. Most starfish meals are boiled because this is the easiest way to cook the meat.
However, you can also eat fried starfish, with boiled meat being softer and fried having a crispier flavor.
What Do Starfish Look Like?
Living starfish all have a trademark star shape with five limbs around a central body. Their colors can vary from incredibly bright and flashy “warning” colors to relatively low-key tones.
Most have a rather rough surface with various bumps that help the starfish move easily.
Starfish meat is usually brownish-green and comes from the legs or arms of the starfish. You typically don’t see this meat until you remove it from the starfish using various forks and other preparation tools.
The meat doesn’t look anything like the exterior arms or body of the starfish.
What Texture Do Starfish Have?
Starfish texture is a mixed bag with some people liking it’s rather soft and creamy textures while others don’t like it. It has been compared to creamy ground beef but with a mushier and softer texture.
Combined with the darker color, starfish meat can seem initially unappealing.
That texture is easy to mask by flavoring the starfish with various ingredients and seasonings. For example, boiling it with various extra flavors can help to give it a nicer texture that mixes well with salads, soups, and more.
Try to use starfish in ways that make sense for your taste, such as putting it on sandwiches.
Types Of Starfish
Starfish come in 1,900 different species around the planet, making it impossible to cover even a fraction of them in this short space.
They include varieties like leather star, morning sun star, sunflower star, granulated sea star, royal starfish, and bat sea star species.
Each of these starfish has varying colors and sizes, though they typically have a similar taste and texture when eaten.
Note that some starfish are dangerous to eat due to a high poison content. That makes it important only to buy commercially available starfish for consumption.
Where Do Starfish Come From?
Starfish are found in all of the world’s oceans and live in just about any environment imaginable, thanks to their diverse revolutionary paths.
These include rocky shores, tidal pools, kelp forests, sandy beaches, seagrass areas, deep-sea floors, and even coral reefs.
Starfish are only saltwater creatures due to their unique electrolyte balance. They require saltwater to retain this balance and are never found in freshwater as a result.
Many species live throughout coastal areas, which is where a majority of commercially available starfish are caught.
Are Starfish Healthy? Or Dangers Of Eating Starfish?
Starfish are reasonably healthy fish with a low-calorie content and a balanced fat level. They have minimal cholesterol, surprisingly little sodium, and dense protein content.
Starfish also have solid levels of calcium, potassium, and phosphorous levels.
However, starfish have a high risk of mercury poisoning because they tend to live on the ocean floor. This means they may also be contaminated with other pollutants that could make them unsafe to eat.
Furthermore, some starfish are naturally poisonous and should never be eaten.
How Do You Eat Starfish?
Starfish are typically boiled alive to keep their meat as fresh as possible, though you can avoid this action if you think it is cruel.
Instead, you can kill them humanely by placing them in a jar with a cotton ball soaked in formaldehyde. This will kill them without causing excessive suffering.
After boiling the starfish, they are carefully opened up, and the meat is pulled from their legs.
If you do cook a dead starfish, it must be dead no more than 24 hours before cooking. It is best to kill them in the method described above just before boiling them.
How Can I Store Starfish?
You typically can’t place starfish meat in your fridge for long because it must be cooked 24 hours after the fish dies.
You can keep living starfish in an aquarium carefully balanced for their needs and remove them when you want to eat them. This method is expensive but useful if you want pet starfish anyway.
Note that you can preserve the starfish’s body after removing the meat if you carefully remove it without cutting off the legs. Preserving it includes soaking it in various chemicals that help to keep it firm and safe from rotting for a long time.
Can You Freeze Starfish?
Freeze starfish by carefully removing their meat after boiling it and storing it in a plastic bag or freezer-safe container.
Label the bag and place it deep in the freezer to ensure that it gets a low enough temperature. You can also freeze a whole starfish using this method.
You can typically keep starfish for at least six months after storage, though the meat will be mushy after thawing, no matter what.
Note that starfish meat may also get freezer burned, so check it periodically to ensure that it doesn’t develop this damaging problem.
How To Tell If Starfish Is Bad?
Bad starfish will start to smell bad rather quickly, usually within 3-4 days of the fish’s death.
Though you typically want to cook the meat at least 24 hours after the starfish dies, you can cook it for longer. But if it starts smelling badly during this time, it needs to be thrown away.
You can also check for signs of rotting throughout the meat, such as even softer or mushier meat. You can also look for signs of mold, such as green or black spots.
If your starfish lacks these symptoms but has a spoiled taste that turns your stomach, throw it away.
Can You Eat Starfish Raw
Starfish is never eaten raw because its flesh is typically too mushy and soft to enjoy without being boiled or fried. Furthermore, raw starfish has the danger of various parasites and contamination, which makes it a high-risk fish to eat raw.
Furthermore, it is important to avoid eating any starfish part that isn’t the meat. The exterior arms and center area are not edible and can cause severe stomach problems if eaten.
You may even experience internal bleeding if these sharp parts puncture any part of your stomach.
Do Starfish Have Worms?
Starfish, like all seafood creatures, may have parasites and worms throughout their bodies.
These worms are typically very small and may live on the starfish’s arms or even throughout their digestive tract. They are usually destroyed when boiling starfish in the water.
However, it is still important to look for worms when pulling boiled meat out of the starfish. While boiling should destroy most, there’s a chance that others may survive.
Remove any worms you might find, or simply throw away the meat to avoid any potential risk.
What Is The Best Way To Cook Starfish?
Starfish are typically best eaten when boiled because this process softens up their meat and makes it easier to remove.
While starfish meat is already soft, boiling tenderizes it a little more and detaches it from the body to make pulling it out smoother.
You can then eat the starfish meat without flavoring or dip it in melted butter, or flavor it in other ways.
For example, you could fry boiled starfish meat to add more flavor and season it with various sauces. This process also firms up the meat a little and makes it easier for some people to enjoy.
How Do You Clean Starfish For Eating?
Clean starfish by carefully placing them in cool water and scrubbing their surface before boiling in hot water and cooling them in cold water.
You usually don’t clean the starfish for eating until after you have boiled them. After they are boiled, you cut off their limbs from their central body.
Now, you use a fork to dig out the meat inside their limbs. Throw away the limbs and the central body, as you don’t eat any of the meat from that part.
Thankfully, starfish have no bones, and their internal organs are in the central disc, making it easier to eat their meat immediately.
Are Starfish Poisonous To Eat?
Yes, some starfish are poisonous to eat and should be avoided at all costs. Some even have thorns that they use to distribute this poison to prey or predator animals.
As a result, it is critical to know how to identify these species and avoid them when eating starfish.
For example, the crown-of-thorns starfish has a body made up of several thorns that will prick your skin and deliver a poison that can be very painful.
These thorns may even embed in the skin and cause infections and other problems. Avoid these starfish and others like them to stay safe.
Starfish Vs. Shrimp
Starfish and shrimp have a similarly mild taste that makes them comparable in many ways. Shrimp typically have a less salty flavor which makes them a little easier to enjoy.
Both creatures possess little meat, which makes eating more than one a common option.
Shrimp are more commonly eaten than starfish, as well, because they have firmer meat that is easier to prepare and cook. Both have similar nutrient levels, though starfish have far less fat and cholesterol.
That makes starfish a little healthier to eat than shrimp, if harder to find.
How Do You Cook Starfish?
Cook starfish by adding salt to boiling water at a ratio of one teaspoon of salt per four cups of water. Put the starfish in the boiling water either alive or no more than 24 hours after passing.
It should be boiled for at least 3-4 minutes before being put in cold water for up to 15 seconds.
Crack open the starfish and look for the gray or brownish meat that is safe to eat and remove it with a fork or spoon.
You can then flavor the meat using various seasonings or sauces or fry it in a pan to add a little more flavor and a firmer texture.
Nutritional Value Table
|Nutritional Value of a 100-Gram Serving of Starfish
Quick Table: Starfish Recipes
|Starfish And Scallops
|1 hour 25 minutes
This recipe is a variation of a crab dish that uses delicious starfish uniquely. Start by boiling your starfish and removing the meat before seasoning it with flour and milk.
Coat a frying pan in peanut oil and heat it up before cooking your starfish until warm in the pan.
This recipe lets you add things like garlic, peppers, and other items you want to your starfish. It also serves well with fried potatoes, asparagus, and other unique sides.
Try to vary your starfish meals in this way to add more flavor and diversity to their offerings.
Total Preparation Time: n/a
Here’s another adapted recipe that lets you pair starfish and scallops to create a rich and flavorful meal.
Start by boiling your starfish and cleaning the scallops before frying both in an oil-soaked pan. Flavor with thyme, parsley, paprika, and other spices you enjoy.
We suggest this dish for people who are new to starfish and who need an easier transition meal. The mildness of the scallops helps to offset the softness of the starfish.
These meats also blend well together in a rich butter sauce, particularly one with a creamy texture.
Total Preparation Time: 5 minutes
If you love pasta and seafood dishes, try adding starfish to this recipe to make it even better.
You cook squid, shrimp, oysters, and starfish in a pan and flavor them with tomatoes, pepper, salt, rice, seafood stock, white wine, saffron, paprika, parsley, lemon, garlic, and onions. Serve over your favorite pasta.
We suggest this recipe for those who have a little more time to cook, as it will take some careful preparation to get right. It is also important to pay attention to the meat’s interior temperature, as it must hit 145 degrees to be safe to eat.
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Starfish Eat?
Starfish eat things like micro algae, bivalves, snails, and other small animals, though some might eat plankton and even fecal matter.
Their taste will vary based on their diet, so make sure you feel comfortable eating starfish that could eat bowel waste.
How Else Are Starfish Used?
Starfish are often used in various research projects because of their unique ability to regrow limbs. They are also used as decorative items and may be fished and dried for this purpose.
Some Asian companies harvest starfish meat and sell it in canned or frozen dishes.
Are Starfish Dangerous To Eat?
Starfish sold commercially are carefully chosen to ensure that no poisonous species are eaten. However, some questionable shops may not perform due diligence to avoid this risk.
Only buy starfish from trusted and reliable sources, and never eat random starfish you find in the wild.
Where Can I Find Starfish To Eat?
In some areas, starfish may be illegal to harvest and sell, so you may have to look online or find specialty shops to find these creatures. For example, you can usually find starfish in many Asian food markets, especially those with Chinese foods.
Watch this video to get a great visual representation of how to cook and eat starfish.
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