Is Starfish Edible? Important Facts to Know

Is Starfish Edible? Important Facts to Know

There are many edible fish in the sea, but that doesn’t mean they all are. A starfish, for instance, can be a strange option on a seafood menu. It is uncommon, and that’s why many people ask, is starfish edible?

Knowing whether starfish is edible is important for you to determine whether to add it to your food habits or not. It can also help you determine if you can eat all parts of a starfish or if there are specific parts that may be poisonous.

This article examines important facts about starfish, and answers the question, is starfish edible? But first, here are a few important things to know about starfish.

Important Things to Know About Starfish

underwater starfish caribbean sea

While its name might suggest otherwise, starfish – also known as sea stars – are not fish. Unlike fish, sea stars are invertebrate aquatic animals with protruding arms. They typically have five arms, which is why most of them have a star shape (except the cushion starfish).

Different species of starfish live in different ocean water habitats, like tropical coral reefs, cold seafloor, and many others. They have eyes, tough leather-like skin, hundreds of feet, and multiple colors that help them stay camouflaged when threatened. They don’t have brains, blood, or a central nervous system.

Their mouth is under their body, where they eat things. They do this by pushing their stomach out of their mouth to digest food outside their body. They are also considered carnivorous fish because they prey on mussels, clams, and oysters.

A fascinating fact about starfish is their ability to regenerate their arms. While they might need months or years to complete the regeneration, it’s always helpful when hiding from potential predators like individual puffer fish.

Is Starfish Edible?

While starfish are popularly known for their beautiful appearance, people are often unsure whether they are edible. So, is starfish edible? Yes, starfish is edible, provided it is properly prepared and cooked. It’s an exotic food option popular in Thailand, China, and Indonesia.

It should be noted, however, that the outer part of the starfish isn’t edible and can be poisonous. But, once you break the outer covering and the inside is well seasoned and cooked, it tastes delicious.

It’s usually best to have starfish prepared by a chef. The fact that some parts of a starfish are poisonous means it should only be made by those familiar with cooking who can easily remove all of the poisonous parts.

Another important thing to note about eating starfish is that while some are edible with poisonous parts, others are entirely poisonous. For example, pteraster capricornis, also known as the black-marble sea star, is a poisonous starfish primarily found on the northern Pacific coast.

The crown-of-thorns starfish is another poisonous starfish you must avoid. The skin produces potent toxins like saponins and tetrodotoxins, both of which can cause food poisoning, vomiting, and nausea when ingested.

Additionally, the astropecten polyacanthus, which is found on the northern Pacific Ocean coast, can cause excruciating pain when ingested.

Cooking or boiling a poisonous starfish for an extended period doesn’t make it less poisonous. In fact, the toxins in a poisonous starfish can become more potent and concentrated after cooking or boiling.

How Do You Cook a Starfish

Starfish skewers local cuisine

As we mentioned earlier, having your starfish cooked by a professional chef who can remove the poisonous parts is the safest method of consuming starfish. If you’re able to remove the parts yourself, you can cook starfish as well, though. Boiling is the most popular way of cooking starfish, but you can also deep fry it.

How to Boil Starfish

Step 1: Fill more than half of a pot with salted water, then bring it to a boil.

Step 2: Place your starfish in the water and allow it to boil for about 8-10 minutes.

Step 3: After boiling the starfish for 8-10 minutes, remove them and place them in a cold water bath for 15-20 seconds.

Step 4: Lay each starfish belly up and cut each foot open to reveal the meat within, which will look brown or gray.

Step 5: Get a lobster cracker or pliers to crack open the shell on the starfish’s outer part.

Step 6: Scrape out the meat using a spoon and season it to get the best taste it offers.

How to Fry a Starfish

Step 1: Pour the oil of your choice into a deep fryer.

Step 2: Place your starfish in the deep fryer and leave it to cook for 10 minutes.

Step 3: After 10 minutes, remove the starfish from the fryer and place it in a bowl of cold water for 15-20 seconds.

Step 4: Turn the starfish belly up and cut open each foot to reveal the meat within will look brown or gray.

Step 5: Poke a stick through one leg of the starfish to hold and peel the back to comfortably eat the meat inside.

Step 6: Season or add sauce to the meat to produce the best taste.

To cook starfish properly, you should follow each of the steps mentioned above for the best results and to ensure your starfish is fully cooked and safe to consume.

Final Thoughts

Starfish are unique, edible, and incredibly tasty, provided you cook them correctly through boiling or frying. If you’re purchasing a starfish to eat, you should get it from a reputable shop to avoid selecting and cooking a poisonous variety of starfish.

It’s recommended to have a chef who can distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous starfish cook your starfish for you, as they will know how to remove the non-edible parts and cook it perfectly.

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