Man bites shark

Some sharks have a high uric acid content in their flesh, making them poisonous to eat. Hence, hákarl. (Rotten shark meat? Sure, I’d try it.) But the shark steaks you see in the supermarket haven’t been buried in gravel for weeks and then dried for a couple of months. It must not have the uric acid content of the basking shark.

So which sharks are safe to eat fresh? Or if that list is too long, which sharks are unsafe to eat fresh?

All sharks are safe to eat. You just need to bleed them well first and rinse the fillets to reduce the taste. Even if you don’t do that they are still edible, they just taste foul.

Wherever did you get the idea that some sharks are poisonous?

Googling around, it seems like the problem is that pretty much all sharks maintain high urea levels. The solution seem to be a matter of proper handling: keep the fight short, clean the shark immediately, ice the fillets and finally soak them in freshwater overnight.

Trying to get to the bottom of this, I put [shark poisonous] and [shark toxic] and similar term sinto Google. The only hits that suggest sharks are poisonous are a single, uncited Wikipedia article and the pages that reference it. The supposed citation in the Wiki article says that shark flesh can produce toxic products if handled improperly and allowed to decompose, Well, d’uh. Of course that’s true. It’s true of all meat.

OTOH if you put [shark recipes] or [shark preparation] into Google you’ll get endless results, none of which suggest you need do anything more than bleed, gut, fillet and wash.

So it looks like Wikipedia does it again. As someone who has eaten fresh-caught shark his entire life I wondered why anyone would think that sharks are poisonous.

I was on a charter fishing boat once where they landed a Mako shark. The head was removed on the deck via fire axe, it was gutted then cut into steaks. I saw the nerve cords still wiggling as the steaks were cut. All of this was done right on the deck.
Anyway the cook wrapped one steak in foil with butter, onion salt/pepper and maybe some green pepper and tossed it on the grill.
About 30 minutes later it was the best seafood I have ever eaten.

I don’t remember where I first heard it. Pre-Internet, anyway. Since I’d been eating shark steaks, I assumed that there were some sharks (like the ones used for hákarl) had such high uric acid levels as to be poisonous, and the ones you get in the supermarket didn’t. I think they may have mentioned it on a National Geographic show last night about an orca that killed and ate a great white shark.

So what does unprocessed shark meat taste like ? Like fish meat drenched in piss ?

It smells like ammonia. I mean exactly like someone took the lid of a bottle of ammonia. I’ve never eaten it. It’s not too bad if the meat is really fresh, but after even a few minutes the enzyme start breaking the urea down and releasing ammonia, and it get worse with time.