Can You Eat Barracuda And How Does It Taste?

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Have you ever been fishing or seen barracuda for sale and been curious what it’s like? However, like with perch, you may have been hesitant to eat it as predatory fish are often known to contain high amounts of mercury or be otherwise dangerous to eat. As such, you may worry can you eat barracuda and how does it taste?

Table of Contents

What Is A Barracuda?

Barracuda are snakelike lean fish that are predatory in nature and typically live in saltwater habitats, usually in open waters. They are often considered apex predators of their environments and as such are typically quite aggressive.

A distinct trait of barracuda is their relatively large mouth which will be filled with razor-sharp teeth. Additionally, they have very small scales which leave the gills exposed and come in a variety of different colors. Most commonly they will have silver scaled sides and white underbelly, whilst the upper bodies can range in color from blue to grey, to white.

Often when fishing barracuda are considered to be little more than a pest since they are not the most desirable fish but will target bait and hooks. However, some fishermen will specifically target barracuda either for sport or to eat them.

Can You Eat Barracuda And How Does It Taste?

Why You Should Be Cautious Of Eating Predatory Fish

Larger predatory fish can be quite dangerous to eat. This is because all fish naturally contain mercury, although in smaller fish there are typically only trace amounts. However, the higher up the food chain is, the higher concentration of mercury it will contain. 

Now, for fish, this isn’t too much of a concern but for humans, consuming large concentrations of mercury can lead to mercury poisoning. This is a particularly nasty ailment to have as it can have severe impacts on your body, particularly the brain and kidneys. Additionally, it is incredibly difficult to treat with the best cause of action often being to avoid further exposure whilst the mercury eventually passes from your system.

What Is Ciguatera Fish Poisoning?

Another ailment that can come from eating barracuda and other predatory fish is ciguatera poisoning. This is a type of food poisoning contracted from eating lots of smaller reef fish or predators of these fish. Not all reef fish will cause ciguatera poisoning, however, they are more likely to be infected with the toxins that cause it.

As such eating barracudas can be potentially hazardous for this reason as well since as predators, they may have a large concentration of this naturally occurring toxin within their bodies.

Can You Eat Barracuda And How Does It Taste?

Can You Eat Barracuda Meat?

With the above information in mind, you may be of the impression that barracuda meat should be off the menu at full stop. However, as mentioned above plenty of people eat barracuda and do so safely. 

That said though, when eating barracudas, you have to be far more cautious and selective of the parts of the barracuda you eat in order to avoid ciguatera poisoning or even mercury poisoning.

A great and healthy way to do this is to avoid eating larger barracuda, this is because large barracuda will naturally eat more fish. As a result, they will have a larger concentration of mercury and potentially ciguatera toxin.

As such if you are careful and eat safe cuts from smaller barracuda you will be able to enjoy some barracuda meat, relatively risk-free. Like with most fish predatory fish though, it is best not to eat large quantities in a short amount of time due to their mercury content.

Should You Eat Barracuda Meat Raw?

It is recommended that barracuda meat be eaten when cooked instead of in raw dishes. Even Japanese sushi chefs will likely not serve barracuda raw as typically it will be enjoyed fried. 

Part of the reason for this is that cooking helps reduce the hazards associated with the ciguatera toxin. However, if sourced responsibly the chances of becoming ill should be minuscule anyway. The main reason is that cooked barracuda simply tastes much better than raw barracuda. 

Can You Eat Barracuda And How Does It Taste?_Alice's Kitchen

What Does Barracuda Taste Like?

Barracuda may not be to everyone’s tastes. Especially if you don’t like a strong fishy flavor or prefer white fish such as cod or haddock. However, that said, whilst barracuda is fishier meat than most, it is not nearly as strong as something like anchovies or sardines

As such if you are looking for something of an in-between fishy flavor, barracudas might be ideal for your palate. Additionally, barracuda meat despite being quite dark is very lean and has very little oil.

How To Prepare Barracuda

In order to enjoy barracuda safely and with peace of mind it is important to ensure you know how to prepare it properly. As such, below is a guide on how to prepare your barracuda before cooking.

  1. Take a sharp knife and make a small cut in the head, just under the barracuda’s gills.
  2. This incision drains the blood and saves the meat.
  3. Starting behind the pectoral fin cut towards the head, stopping at the backbone.
  4. Beginning at the (dorsal) top edge, slice parallel to the backbone. Keep going past the cloaca of the barracuda until you reach the back fins. Try to keep a steady hand whilst doing this to avoid wasting any meat.
  5. Twist your knife and then firmly cut upwards. Again, be careful whilst you do this.
  6. Lift the fillet near the barracuda’s head and cut through the connective (pin) bones to sever the flesh.
  7. Flip your barracuda over and repeat the process for the other side.

To avoid poisoning, you should avoid consuming parts that are likely to be high in toxins. As such it is best to only eat the flesh of the barracuda. To be extra safe, the flesh should be carefully rinsed with clean water and brushed with lime.

Seasoning Barracuda Flesh

Like with any other fish or meat, the flavors are at their best when paired with some appropriate seasonings and other flavorings. Some great choices for barracudas are as follows:

Can You Eat Barracuda And How Does It Taste?

Ways To Cook Barracuda

Once you’ve prepared and seasoned your barracuda naturally the next step is to cook it. What cooking techniques work well for barracuda though?

Well, many ways that you can serve other kinds of fish fillets can work. In fact, there are many ways to cook and serve barracuda from flash-fried in a sandwich or grilled. Some of the popular options are explained below.

Barracuda Steaks

This is probably one of the most popular options for cooking barracuda, particularly in the United States. To do so, simply fry in butter or your favorite cooking fat of choice and serve with an accompaniment of steamed vegetables. Due to the strong flavor of barracuda, asparagus is often a popular choice.

Fish Stews

After making your stew base add in poached barracuda steaks and cook until they are crumbly or at least cooked all the way through. With a stew like this, the flavor of barracuda will dominate the stew, as such, it is best stewed with complementary flavors.

Some ideas for soup basis for your barracuda stew include a spicy tomato or chunky vegetables. Due to the potent flavor of the fish, you can use some strong spices without compromising the flavor. As such, some recommendations include habanero peppers or scotch bonnets.

Battered Barracuda

Like many other kinds of fish cod or pollock, barracuda can be battered and fried to excellent results. Whilst it is not very fatty, barracuda is able to maintain its structure well when deep-fried and can make for a unique twist on the classic dish of fish and chips as result. Serve with mushy peas and tartare sauce for excellent results and a chippy experience to never forget. 

Can You Eat Barracuda And How Does It Taste?

Steamed Barracuda

A very healthy way to cook barracuda is to steam it. This may not be the most flavourful barracuda cooking method in the world. However, it will be an excellent way to add some protein to your diet if trying to be more conscious of your health.

For the best results, lightly season and serve with some steamed veg and potentially a source of carbohydrates.

Answered: Can You Eat Barracuda And How Does It Taste?

Barracuda is perfectly edible if you are careful with where you source your fillets. Even still, like with other predatory fish, it should be eaten in moderation to avoid ingesting a large amount of mercury.

Barracuda meat itself is quite a strong tasting and smelling, especially when compared to white fish like cod or plaice. However, this isn’t to the extreme of something like anchovies. As a result, it can be seasoned and accompanied by strong seasonings and other ingredients. Additionally, it can be cooked in quite a variety of ways from battered and fried to stewed.

So long as you’re sensible it can make for a delicious and even somewhat healthy fish. As such, if at all curious about trying something new, especially if you love eating fish, then why not give it a try?

FAQ – Can You Eat Barracuda And How Does It Taste?

Is barracuda fish poisonous?

Barracuda fish can potentially be poisonous due to containing high levels of mercury and/or ciguatera toxin. However, if you source fillets from smaller barracuda, prepare them correctly, and cook them properly they can be safely eaten in moderation.