Did you know that starfish are not fish? They are a group of marine invertebrates belonging to the phylum Echinodermata and are more like sea urchins and sand dollars.
These unique, magnificent invertebrates bearing almost alien-like bodies are considered to be a treat amongst many cuisines and can be cooked as well as eaten raw in sushi and sashimi. Since there are more than a thousand different species of starfish, it’s important to learn more about these sea stars before you jump into learning how to eat starfish.
Starfish, also known as sea stars, have a distinctive shape, with five arms that radiate from a central disk. However, some species have more or fewer arms, and their shape can vary. They are known for their ability to regenerate lost arms, which can be a defensive mechanism against predators or a way to escape from tight spaces.
There are over 2,000 species of starfish, ranging in size from less than an inch to over three feet in diameter. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns basking around the ocean’s coral reefs in search of food.
Starfish feed on a variety of prey, including mollusks, crustaceans, and other small invertebrates. Since their digestive glands aren’t positioned like ours, they capture their prey using their tube feet, which are located on the undersides of their arms. They can also push their stomachs out of their mouths to engulf and digest prey outside of their bodies.
Some of the most common starfish include:
- Panamic starfish
- Marble sea starfish
- Asterina starfish
- Coral-eating starfish
Starfish are one of the most sought-after delights in the street markets of China, Indonesia, and Thailand with thousands of individuals consuming these exotic protein-packed sea creatures.
Raw or Cooked: How to Eat Starfish?
Starfish are rarely eaten raw – the toxins, parasites, and worms caught in its shell make it almost impossible to do so. However, they can be boiled, cooked, fried, grilled, and even baked. Many cultures promote the consumption of semi-boiled starfish, but according to health experts globally, eating starfish this way can lead to food poisoning and other related diseases.
As a food enthusiast, if you are looking into how to eat starfish, you should properly preserve it and either prepare it alive or cook it the way you would cook lobsters or crabs. As long as the creature hasn’t been dead for more than 24 hours, you can safely consume it without worrying about any health concerns.
What Do Starfish Taste Like?
While there are more than a dozen ways to prepare starfish to consume, just like with any other food, the taste of starfish is subjective. A large majority of foodies describe the taste of starfish to be somewhat salty and briny.
Unlike fish, prawn, and other traditional forms of seafood, starfish has a unique flavor. Since it does not have much meat on its body, the cooked version can seem like a semi-solid, creamy texture with a tender consistency inside.
However, when learning how to eat starfish, some people compare the taste to that of a Chinese river crab, squid, or octopus, while others find it to be somewhat bitter or salty. Nonetheless, with just a dash of oil, salt, and pepper starfish is worth trying at least once, and if you like your food spicy then pair it with hot sauce to enjoy this unique delicacy.
If you’re interested in eating raw starfish, then you may find it to have a somewhat crunchy texture similar to that of raw clams and oysters.
Health Benefits of Eating Starfish
Starfish are more valuable than just being a common aquarium pet. Apart from serving as a mouth-watering delicacy in many cultures, starfish also have essential nutrients that can help improve your overall health. A typical 2.5 oz starfish consists of almost 22 grams of protein with just a trace amount of sugar and fats.
So, before we jump to learning how to eat starfish, let’s take a look at some of its promising benefits:
Antioxidants and Vitamins
Starfish are packed with essential antioxidants like zinc, copper, and selenium. When consumed in the correct quantity, they can help protect your body from diseases related to oxidative stress and free radical damage. Additionally, starfish also serve as a great source of vitamins B1 and B2, which helps with soreness in muscles.
Another great benefit of learning how to eat starfish is its anti-inflammatory properties. Many studies have shown that these anti-inflammatory properties, along with the presence of selenium, help in fighting against cardiovascular diseases and promote heart health.
In addition, consuming starfish helps to produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body.
Immune System Support
Did you know that these five-legged invertebrates are also packed with omega-3 fatty acids? As a result, starfish can help with the proper functioning of one’s immune system and aid in fighting off infections. Also, the presence of selenium and omega-3 fatty acids helps to fight off cancer and helps with fertility issues in both men and women.
Other Benefits of Starfish
Learning how to eat starfish is the best way to utilize its health benefits, but there are other uses for starfish as well.
Some of these additional benefits include:
Starfish can serve as an excellent fertilizer for your soil. To do so, you need to feed them boiled rice and seaweed for two weeks before you boil them. Once cooked, peel the skin using a fork and dry them for a day or two before incorporating them into your soil mixture or compost pile.
The mucus produced by starfish can serve as an excellent binding agent or glue to stick pieces of wood or plastic together.
How to Eat Starfish
Here are a few great ways to eat starfish:
Step 1: Before jumping into cooking your starfish, it is crucial to clean it properly. Place it under cold running water and gently brush off all the sand and debris, focusing primarily on the legs. You may want to use a scrub brush for this step.
Step 2: Soak the cleaned starfish in a bowl of salt water and add a tablespoon of baking soda. Soak for about ten minutes. This is perhaps one of the most important steps in learning how to eat starfish since it will remove any remaining debris or dirt.
Step 3: After ten minutes are up, remove the starfish from the salt water and rinse under cold water. Pat dry and place it on a cooling rack. Make sure the rack is lined with paper towels to soak any excess water.
Step 4: If you want to enjoy street-styled starfish, place the rack on a stove top burner and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the skin turns white. Allow the starfish to cool down and dry for a few minutes before you jump into devouring it.
This is another popular choice among seafood aficionados. To learn how to eat starfish, you should first master the art of frying it adequately.
Step 1: Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes. Gently place the fish in the center of the skillet while watching out for the hot oil.
Step 2: Using a pair of tongs, cook the starfish for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until it turns slightly brown and crispy.
Step 3: Once fried, gently remove the fish from the skillet and place it on a paper-lined plate. Enjoy with crackers and your favorite hot sauce or butter.
Other popular methods for how to eat starfish include:
- Making a sandwich
- Adding it to your salad
- Baking it
- Brewing a starfish soup
From hogfish to starfish, the rare delicacies of the sea are something that everyone should enjoy at least once. However, while learning how to eat starfish, be careful since not all species of starfish are considered to be edible.
If you’re planning to prepare starfish at home, make sure that you purchase one from a reputed seller and clean it well before cooking or baking. Bon Appetite!