Tarpons are not usually considered a fish for eating, and yet there’s a curiosity amongst people about ‘what does tarpon taste like?’
Mainly caught for sport, these fishes have long been scrutinized for their overpowering fishiness and numerous tiny bones in their body.
It’s not part of the list of choicest cuts of meat available in the market.
In fact, there is rarely a monger who sells this bony fish.
They are often prized as game fish for those who love fishing as a sport.
Many angling fishermen dream of catching a big fish, such as a tarpon, in their lifetime.
But they would never encourage eating the animal.
Read on to find out if you can cook and eat a tarpon.
What Is Tarpon?
Tarpons or ‘silver kings’ have silver shimmering scales all across their bodies and enormous mouths.
A full-grown tarpon can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh just over 100 kilograms.
Often the animals are by called a different name by the locals.
These fishes have a strict meat diet and will prey on other smaller fishes, insects, and crustaceans.
Both subspecies of tarpons can live in the sea and freshwater.
Depending on their habitat, a fish can grow very large or to a moderate size.
They are adaptable; their most notable feature is their bladder.
The swim bladder allows the fish to rise to the surface and take in oxygen.
They often swim in schools across shallow waters, searching for food.
These fish come in two varieties and are found in salt as well as fresh water.
They are extremely large and their shimmering scales are hard to miss when you go fishing or snorkeling.
What Does Tarpon Taste Like?
It is highly unlikely that you’ll ever see a tarpon as a menu item in a restaurant.
Most restaurateurs ignore the fish because of its pungency.
The fish also have a number of small bones that can be harmful to paying guests or customers.
The only time you would actually get to enjoy this meaty sea creature is if you prepare it on your own.
But you’ll have to procure and clean it first.
Finding a monger who sells the fish may be tricky.
You may have to go directly to the source and ask the fishermen to get you one.
Once the fish is in your charge, you have the herculean task of preparing the meat.
So, if all that doesn’t bother you, you might enjoy the fish.
The meat is white and flaky and has a great texture to it, but the gaminess and odor might have you running for the hills.
The skin is quite oily, and a thick layer of fat coats the meat.
This fish is, in every sense, a true product of the sea with its intense odor, gamey flavor, and brininess.
The meat tastes like a cross between trout and salmon if you can overcome the smell.
You can even add citrus or lime to contrast the strong fishy taste.
Imagine catching fresh game and preparing it as a stew or roast.
Now try thinking about tarpon as the game of the sea.
If you get where this is going, you’ll know that the best way to enjoy this fish is by cooking it with strong spices that can challenge the taste of the ocean.
How to Cook Tarpon?
Fish cakes are the preferred method of preparation for this fish, according to every source on the web.
When cooking this meat, adding several strong spices that will combat the odor is the way to go.
It also pairs well with acidic flavors.
Some prefer to fillet, clean the fish, and keep it in the freezer for a day before cooking it.
This will ensure that all the microorganisms growing on the surface are killed.
This method also reduces the gaminess of the meat.
People have also paired the fish with strong spices in curries to muddle the fishiness.
You can cook the even poach or pan-fry it and pair it with a rich sauce to help with the strong taste.
Before you start cooking the fish, you’ll need to ensure it is cleaned properly.
This task is strenuous but can be done if you’re determined to prepare it.
You’ll have to discard most of the large bones and skin because they are not edible.
Once that’s completed, a thick layer of fat must be removed from around the meat.
Once you’ve completed skinning, deboning, and peeling the fat, it’s finally ready to be cooked per your preferences.
After reading through, you may have been disheartened about tasting your catch of the day.
Many may prefer not to eat this fish because of a few of its unsavory traits.
It really boils down to whether you would enjoy it or not.
The tarpon is famous across the Americas for its fantastic agility, areal jumps, and massive size.
Suppose you catch one fishing; it will surely win you first prize in any competition.
However, it could be an unconventional menu item for dinner.