Skip to Content

What Does Koi Fish Taste Like? Can You Eat it?

Unlike other fish species, koi are mainly kept as pet koi ponds or home aquarium.

In Japan, it’s mainly kept as an ornamental fish and has vast cultural significance.

Because of its vibrant coloration and pattern, it’s not quite popular as kitchen delicacy.

In addition, its attractive appearance has gained attention in other parts of the world as well.

So, what does koi fish taste like? Is it edible? These common questions are asked by many who are intrigued or interested to know more about this fish.

This fish is edible but comes with a caveat which we’ll discuss further below.

We’ll also reveal its taste profile and the ways to have it.

What is Koi Fish?

Koi is one of the many variants of amur carp.

It’s a species of C.rubrofuscus belonging to the Cyprinidae family.

This fish species mainly originated from carp, which consists of various species of oily freshwater fish found in Asia and Europe.

This fish’s breeding goes back to the early nineteenth century in Niigata, Japan.

Varieties of colored carp were put in water gardens and koi ponds.

Reportedly, there are more than a hundred varieties of koi.

It’s created through breeding by the Zen Nippon Airinkai- a group known for disseminating and breeding this fish.

Since there are numerous varieties, it’s identified through scalation, coloration, and patterning.

Some prominent colors are yellow, white, cream, red, blue, and black.

Some well-known Koi varieties are Kohaku, Showa Sanshok, Bekko, and Taisho Sanshoku.

What Does Koi Fish Taste Like?

The taste of this fish is likely to vary depending on various factors such as environment and diet.

It’s a freshwater fish found both in wild water and domesticated.

Generally, it has a mild flavor, which means it lacks a strong fishy smell.

Koi will be an excellent alternative if you prefer something other than strongly flavored fish.

Some people have this fish raw in the form of sashimi or sushi.

However, if you’re having it raw, adequate cleaning is required to eliminate parasites.

It’s a delicate white flesh fish and has a flaky texture.

The fish slightly has a sweet flavor and is often compared to tilapia or bass.

Because of its sweet and mild taste, it’s also compared to shrimp and chicken.

Since there are varieties of koi, the taste is likely to vary.

Some might have a strong flavor depending on their characteristics.

The taste will also vary depending on how it’s prepared or cooked.

Since it’s mostly known as an ornamental fish, most people hesitate to have koi.

Their coloration and pattern might be off-putting for some people.

Besides, it’s pretty expensive and not readily available like other seafood.

Koi are also known to have high mercury levels, which may not be suitable for health in the long run.

Regardless, it’s protein-rich fish and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Having it in moderation avoids harmful health risks.

How to Cook and Serve Koi Fish?

Koi is a popular delicacy in Asian cuisine.

Due to its mild flavor, it blends well with most of the seasoning ingredients, allowing it to prepare in different ways.

Before cooking, it’s essential to clean the fish properly regardless of where it’s sourced.

One of the essential aspects while preparing seafood is cleaning.

It plays a crucial role in determining taste and is also necessary for health safety.

You may cook koi carp in various ways, from steaming to grilling.

Seasoning the fish with oil is necessary for baking and grilling to prevent sticking.

It also makes a fantastic stew or soup.

Add aromatic herbs and strongly flavored ingredients for this kind of cooking since this fish has a mild flavor.

Including a side dish to go with this fish recipe is highly advisable.

For instance, koi carp stew and rice make an excellent pair.

It’s filling, and both complement well.

You may have grilled or baked koi with noodles or pasta.

Or, if you prefer a light meal, have it with a light beverage like iced lemon juice or a fruit punch.

Pair with dishes that complements the main dish instead of overpowering it.

That way, you’ll enjoy the meal wholeheartedly.


Koi carp is a widely known freshwater fish species that are usually kept as pets instead of consuming it.

It’s more popular as an ornamental fish instead of a kitchen delicacy.

That doesn’t mean the fish isn’t tasty.

It’s a sweet-tasting white flesh fish with a mild flavor.

With proper use of seasoning ingredients, expect incredible taste.

You may prepare this fish in different ways and have it raw, in the form of sushi or sashimi.

However, ensure that the fish is fresh and cleaned correctly.

Unlike other fish, koi may not be readily available in the market.

You may check online as some sites sell this fish species.

About The Author