What It’s Like to Eat Koi Fish

What It’s Like to Eat Koi Fish

This article comes from the Bent Fishing Podcast’s “Fish News” segment, where hosts Joe Cermele and Miles Nolte go head-to-head to find and report the most interesting and amusing fishy stories across sources far and wide—from respected scientific journals to trashy tabloids.

Jan. 17, 2020, Amanda Omeychua’s 20 pet koi fish died after a mishap with pond maintenance. In true MeatEater style, she decided to cook the fish rather than let them go to waste.

Her initial post to Facebook group “Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ni,” which roughly translates to “Cooking Fails of the Day,” quickly went viral. She posted photos of the vibrant orange koi carcasses as well as the soup she made, which was described as a “traditional recipe for a king.”

The first preparation of koi fish. Image via Amanda Omeychua.

Bent host and MeatEater’s senior fishing editor Joe Cermele was not necessarily impressed with her initial preparation. “Honestly, the shot of the bowl of soup makes me gag a little. The bright orange and white koi head in the middle of the bowl with those boiled out eyeballs is off putting, I’m sorry.”

Comments on the post vary from folks asking for her recipe to people shaming her for cooking her pets. Some questioned if the koi were even edible or “too cute to eat.”

In an interview with South China Morning Post, Omeychua responded, “I am feeling okay, I can accept what people are saying. Not all types of food can be in all people’s mouths, so that’s why many people are shocked. But it is still fish and it can still be eaten.”

Omeychua claimed the fish tasted like ikan patin or silver catfish, a commonly cooked species in Asian cuisine. US Angler agrees that koi are edible because folks eat carp all over the world. Koi are Amur carp that have been specifically culled for their unique coloration and carp, despite their meager reputation as table fare, can be delicious.

In fact, koi were originally brought to Japan as a food fish, living in symbiotic rice-fish systems. But eventually the ascetic appeal of koi outgrew their nutritional value, and their status as food fish turned into a mark of status quo. More contemporarily, koi are a seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity, and a standard-sized koi will sell for about $100.

Omeychua disregarded fearmongering directed at her regarding the coronavirus pandemic originating from exotic animals. She also shrugged off stigmas connected to eating pets. “I cook and eat fish that died in a good way. In my hometown, we eat pufferfish too. Sometimes my family and neighbors would cook pet fish, just not one’s that are expensive as mine,” Omeychua told SCMP.

Omeychua reportedly gave some of the koi to her brother, who also cooked and enjoyed the fish. She even purchased more koi to eat and has been improving her presentation and preparation methods.

Although Joe Cermele is still not sold on eating a bright orange koi head, MeatEater commends Omeychua’s dedicated resourcefulness and unwavering good humor.

To catch all the Fish News stories and so much more, listen to the full Bent show here or wherever you listen to podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Feature image via Amanda Omeychua.

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