When exploring Chinese cuisine, seeing seahorses on the menu would not be a new thing. It is a dish that is rarely served in other areas of the world but is sought-after street food in China, some might say because of what it tastes like. Others, because of its sketchy medicinal purposes.
In contrast to the vast options of fishes and aquatic animals, eating seahorses are not as popular generally and is often limited to a specific market. Despite this, you might wonder what seahorses taste like and if it is as delicious as other seafood or just another overhyped meal.
Do People Eat Seahorses?
Yes, people eat seahorses, but it is a dish known only in some countries. Catching and cooking seahorses for food and medicine is peculiar to some parts of the world, such as Indonesia, Australia, China, the Philippines, Thailand to mention a few.
In these places, seahorses are a common food and they’re deep-fried, boiled in soups, or made into powder and put into rice wine, teas, and medicines. Seahorses can also be put into a bottle and displayed for people to buy.
What Do Seahorses Taste Like?
Seahorses that have been deep-fried are crispy on the outside and taste like pork rinds with extra salt. As the seahorse contains more bones than actual flesh, deep frying is a preferable option. Seahorses are also prepared as a soup, and the broth, as well as the seahorses, taste like dry scallops however it has a chewy texture in soups unlike when it is deep-fried.
Are Seahorses Poisonous to Eat?
No, seahorses are not poisonous to eat. However, it is not eaten raw and in most of the recipes used to prepare it, the seahorse is either dried extensively and crushed into powder to be added in teas or sauces, it can also be fried and placed on a stick and served as a snack or cooked in liquid and made into a soup.
Can You Eat Powdered Seahorse?
Yes, you can eat powdered seahorse but, in this form, it is mostly consumed as medicine. Powdered seahorse is used to treat impotence, asthma and is even called aphrodisiac in some regions, it is also used as a home remedy for various ailments, but evidence of it working has not been proven and so it is not widely accepted as a cure for any illness. Consuming huge amounts of this powdered seahorse is also not advisable as it causes kidney failure.
Health Benefits of Eating Seahorse
The health benefits of eating seahorses are still unproven and they have been found to have little nutritional value. Although, there have been claims that seahorses can be used to boost sexual drive, treat respiratory diseases, used to detoxify the body, reduce joint pains, improve the body’s circulatory systems and even serve as a facial cleanser, none of these claims have been verified.
This has not stopped the market for seahorses and its use for medicine still drives people to hunt down this creature even though it is illegal to trade it in several countries.
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How to Cook Seahorse the Right Way?
There are many ways to cook a seahorse but just simply deep frying it is a preferred way to go as you end up with a crispy ready-to-eat dish, fried seahorses also have a good texture that brings out an enjoyable taste of the fish. Other methods of cooking it are by boiling it with select spices, some people also add it to teas and tag them as healing teas or by dissolving the powder into a liquid to drink.
How to Deep Fry Seahorse
First, the seahorse is washed and drained by opening the sides to remove all the entrails that is contained in it. The clean seahorse is then placed on a paper napkin which is used to absorb any excess liquid, after this, it is placed in a pan of hot oil and fried till it is crisp enough to eat. Fried seahorses can be served on a bed of lettuce or a stick like regular kebabs. The way it is presented depends on personal preference.
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How to Cook Seahorse in A Soup
Cooking seahorses in a soup is done by using spices and traditional herbs. In a recipe by Miss Chinese food, the herbs used to prepare the soup are Tian qi (a Chinese root) and Medlar (a sugary fruit). To make this soup, the ingredients (seahorses, Tian qi, medlar, figs) are put into a bowl filled with water and left for 20 minutes, then the water is drained. In a separate pot of boiling water, cook some chicken legs for a period of 10 minutes, then add the filtered seahorses, medlar, figs, and Tian qi, alongside 2 liters of water, seasoning is added and the mixture is left to cook for 1-2 hours. Your seahorse soup is then ready to be served.
Seahorses can taste very rubbery if it is not prepared well and as a result of their bony nature a lot of people that like to eat them prefer to toss them in a deep fryer so that they can come out crispy. The market for this dish might be overhyped as the overall effect of the meal is nothing special.
And while seahorses simply taste like salty bony fish when it is well prepared, the rush for it has shown no indication of decreasing. Tourists visiting Asian regions might eat this just to say that they have consumed seahorses, however, the huge demand for this fish still lies with the locals who stand by its medicinal uses and the health benefits that have still not been proven.
Animal activists are also against the high consumption rate of seahorses as contrary to other aquatic life that is being eaten, the seahorse’s population are not easily replenished and so they are on the brink of becoming extinct.