What Does Whale Taste Like?

When on Iceland recently I had a local speciality for dinner: Whale. Interesting experience.

When the waiter came with the food I first thought there’d been some mistake in the kitchen:

Whale?

I was expecting something fish-like and apparently got a steak. But whales are mammals, so they actually don’t taste like fish either. What did it taste like? Fairly similar to horse, I’d say.

What’s the strangest animal you’ve eaten?

PS: As far as I understand mink whale is not really endangered.

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42 Comments

  1. Heather
    Rattlesnake!
    Taste like chicken.
    Would prefer a steak.
  2. Ha ha I love your last line - not really endangered.
    Emu is my strange food. It's good! Like turkey but really gamey.
  3. Gary Green
    Cold boiled goats tongue would be my answer. Yuck, also.
    Love Emu, Ostrich, 'gator, and 'roo which has to be young and cooked quick in lots of oil. Eel is also great especially when the skin is crispy.

    All those years of living just south of Thailand and I never did get up there to try dog or kitten or live monkey brains and of course fried bugs. If I lived there still... I still wouldn't. Double yuck.

    Whale sounds good and I am here in Norway now. Next visit to Oslo maybe. Thanks for the info, you've got me interested now.

  4. Brad
    Strangest thing I have eat'n? I had Rattle snake, Cougar, Bear, Dear, Elk, Moose, Caribou but the weirdest thing I have ever eat'n was a squirrel.
  5. Julian Skinner
    We eat a fair bit of Kangaroo here in Australia. also really enjoy crocodile. I love your work diet doctor and congratulations on your lovely daughter. I have to say, however, I would be reluctant to eat whale because they seem to be an intelligent animal.
  6. gallier2
  7. Laura
    Ahh you must have gotten a 'lean' cut! A Norwegian colleague told me that whale blubber used to be a popular dish...apparently it tastes like soap (not the best endorsment). A restaurant here in London specialises in unusual meats and bugs. I took my husband there for his birthday (I was a veg at the time!!) and he had gnu meat (a bit grey/tough) and grass-hopper salad (basically fried bugs in your salad) and for dessert a chocolate covered scorpion (without sting) I am not joking! I almost threw up even jsut looking at it from the other side of the table. I don't do arachnids in any form shape and size! But hubby said it was fine and there was no sting in t eh tail.....
  8. Funderaren
    Crocodile, it was some years ago so I cant remember the exact taste. But I guess it tasted abit like chicken.

    By the way Doc, I like the moderate portion of potato on your plate. To often people just eat potato as quantity food on the plate, and not as a quality side order.

  9. Gretchen
    I had seal meat once, and it tasted very fishy.
  10. Bill42
    Donkey, in a restaurant in Beijing. Tasted a bit like beef, or maybe horse, as you'd expect!
  11. Ash
    Please dont eat whales, theyr cute and kuddly and about as smart and social as humans.

    im with sea shepperd(yes i know theyr dumb americans) on the whale thing lets preserve them.

  12. Greg
    What's that funny looking thing toward the top-right of your plate?? It's in a triangular shape and looks extremely high-carb!
  13. Donna E
    Hmm. Does whale meat have Neu5gc, I wonder? Does anyone know?
  14. I see a few people mentioning crocodile, I did a bit of it a few months ago:

    http://highsteaks.com/forum/general-discussion/what-is-for-what-was-f...

    Basically, turns out it's only like 2% fat so had to add bacon and eggs.

    Not bad, not much taste to it really, texture is part way between chicken breast and thigh.

    I don't really see many uses for it, now I get why it's typically served in a curry or whatever, I think that's about where it belongs.

  15. The thing about whales is that they are bioaccumulators. Fish grow quickly, are caught and eaten within a year or two. Whales, on the other hand, have many years, even decades to accumulate heavy metals and other toxins in their flesh from pollutants before they are harvested.

    That for me is reason enough to be wary about eating it, to say nothing about whether the hunt is sustainable or not. It's true that Norway has limits on toxin levels allowed within whale meat sold to consumers, but what have they based that level upon?

  16. Ondrej
    Doctor,
    I see you eat potatoes. What is approx. the amount of carbs you consume per day? (g) I ask because I am kind of torn between the two worlds. I am tempted to follow diet according to Phinney/Volek - 50g/day, but this menans really careful choice of food.
    I also read Primal Blueprint, which is also low-carb, but doesn't really limit fruit etc. and aims for about 100-150g a day.
    I need to be on top regarding mental state, because I need to study a lot, every day. I am not sure who is right. Blueprint points out likely deprivation of nutritious food on really low carb, while really low carb says it's dangerous to be under 150 g, but still not in ketosis, because the brain supply suffers...what is your opinion on that? Is it risky to be somewhere in between? And which diet according to your experience is more effective for improving body composition if a person is already on it's normal weight?
  17. We Icelanders don´t eat much whale ourselves. However it is considered a delicatess by many. Whale tastes much more like its hairy cousins on land than its slimy neighbors in the sea.

    It's similar to reindeer or moose. Like these meets, it usually needs very short cooking. Whale is usually served straight up with little or no seasoning. For those who find its unrefined flavor off-putting, whale is often marinated, or slathered with a flavorful sauce.

  18. Funderaren
    Ondrej its not dangerous to do lowcarb, but you dont have to be to strict either if you are normal weight.

    Test for some time and see how your body react and modify your diet if needed.

  19. nonegiven
    squirrel
    sandhilll crane
    armadillo
    peacock
  20. Ondrej,
    I never count grams of carbohydrate but I guess I eat from 50 grams a day and up. Berries and sometimes a fruit. Some potatoes sometimes. Rarely bread or pasta. Almost never refined sugar or candy except for an occasional piece of really dark chocolate.

    I need to be on top regarding mental state, because I need to study a lot, every day. I am not sure who is right. Blueprint points out likely deprivation of nutritious food on really low carb, while really low carb says it's dangerous to be under 150 g, but still not in ketosis, because the brain supply suffers...what is your opinion on that? Is it risky to be somewhere in between?

    I'm in between most days and I see no apparent problem with that. On the other hand I interviewed the Swede who has all the Swedish memory records, taken during day-long competitions. He eats very strict low carb during competitions, to achieve an even and long-lasting concentration (and presumably stable blood sugar). So maybe you should test what works best for you.

    And which diet according to your experience is more effective for improving body composition if a person is already on it's normal weight?

    That's not really my speciality. I specialize in people with metabolic problems. For healthy normal weight people I'd guess either way though. Weight training etc. is probably more important for body composition in that situation, not counting every last gram of carb.

  21. Ondrej
    I read Art and science of low carbohydrate living/performance, and it really inspired me to try strict low carb...even most of your interviewed guests seem to follow rather strict version...I'll try it for a while and maybe return to classic. Thanks.
  22. Ondrej
    Basically, carbs form very little of our body composition. Body composition could be described like "amount of muscle: amount of fat" ratio. I am intentionally oversimplyfying, but really: strict low carb diet allows you to go for very low fat percentage, and if you add proper, progressive stregth training, sleep, recovery...miracles should happen.
    Obviously, even intuitive freestyle lowcarbing with lots of fruit, some dark chocolate...is a huge improvement and will get anyone very close to their ideal bc and weight...it's also really comfortable to follow...this is just a specific path for specific results.
  23. jeff reagan
    After learning of you eating whale meat I can assure you that I will NEVER EVER visit your website again.
  24. Confused
    Oooh, so which is the worse taboo for Dietdoctor to have broken?

    Eating potatoes or eating whale - which shocks his audience the most? Isn't it strange to run a low-carb website and not actually be low-carb?

    What does LCHF even mean once you've added potatoes?

  25. Yes, because it's served on the plate it is therefore mandatory to consume it.
  26. Karen
    Three wedges of potato, which look like about 1/8 of a large potato each. If a large potato has about 60g net carbs, then that's about 22g carbs. With that little bit of salad, maybe it comes to 25g total. If that's all the carbs you have at dinner, I would put you well within a low carb range for the day. Seems to me, that's what counts. I try to stay between 50 to 100g per day myself. Am I missing something, or isn't that the point, i.e. to maintain a health carb range over the course of the day. If this is the only carb splurge of the week, then it's not so bad....right?
  27. gallier2
    @Confused

    low-carb is not the same as no carb, but coming from you, I doubt you'll be able to grasp such a subtle (not) distinction.

  28. Brad
    I wish I could print some of these ridiculous comments on toilet paper.... Who cares if he ate whale? He did not kill it, that was done for him. Did he even mention that he ate the potatoe wedges? So what if he did? After all, he preaches Low Carb High Fat, not No Carb... Some of you make it sound like such a sin to eat whale. Go back to your granola and hippy ways if you have nothing nice to say...

    PS: If I get some toilet paper made with such comments anyone want to buy some? Need the cash so I can import some whale and have a BBQ...

  29. Confused,
    I was going to give you the obvious reply, but it seems like gallier2 and Brad beat me to it.

    Basically the low-carb world is not black and white. Some people have major weight issues / metabolic problems. For them I recommend strict low carb, long term. Meaning as low as they feel comfortable going, below 20 grams a day is good. This is also a good option for quickly losing some excess weight, without hunger.

    If you're happy with your weight and health, like I am, there is probably not much point in staying below 20. You might do equally fine at 50 or 100 grams a day, perhaps even more if you're really active, providing you eat slow quality carbs. Some healthy and slim people might still feel that strict low carb is still a good option for them, but most will probably not find it worth the sacrifices.

  30. Galina L
    I try to be in ketosis or close to eat in order to manage migraines which are actually epileptic activity in mine brain. Ketigenic diet is a miracle for clarity of minds, concentration, mood stability, feeling energized, even to physical endurance. After changing mine diet to a very LC one, I stopped having any pre-menopause symptoms like hot flashes and horrible moods associated with PMS. Probably, guys think - menopause is not my problem. I bet it is a wrong thinking - not single ones suffer as well from PMS and menopause experienced by their ladies. BUT you have to be adopted to being in ketosis.
  31. Galina L
    I was watching episodes of See Shepperd in Iceland(or somewhere in a Scandinavia) with the hope Icelanders will kick their asses. I almost got my wish. There is nothing wrong with a hunting of non-engendered animals especially if it is a part of traditional life-style. I remember watching some damb vegetarian woman screaming on the native crowd during their traditional festival. Brain damage from sustaining on apples and holy grains..
  32. Margaretrc
    I've eaten or tasted turtle meat, ostrich burger, and flying ants. Confused and Jeff, get a grip. Brad, well said.
  33. Diane
    I have not eaten anything terribly strange. Perhaps crawdads are the strangest. Or purple sea urchin (as uni). I think I would feel bad eating a whale.
  34. Brad
    What form of science was used to determine the intelligence of a whale, or dolphin for that matter? Was it the same form of science that told us a rise in cholesterol will cause heart desease? That saturated fats are bad for us? That too much red meat will kill us? Just wondering...
  35. Mark
    Funny how people can be upset, when they see anybody eating wild animals high on the sociozoologic scale.....

    If we should base what we eat on intelligence, then please stop eating the pig....! By every whale we eat, we probably save 100 pig lives, if we go by weight of meat produced per animal.
    So PLEASE eat more whale!

    As long as the whale hunt is sustainable, and they euthanize the whale as efficient as posssible, I see no problem.

    "jeff reagan

    After learning of you eating whale meat I can assure you that I will NEVER EVER visit your website again."

    Meat comes from animals and if you love animals then treat all animal lives equal!
    It does not matter if it is a chicken or a whale, they all deserve a decent natural life like the whale had before it saved the factory produced pigs!

    See the point? you only allow your self to be a hippocrat if you justify to sacrifice the wellbeing of other animals to save what you judge higher on the scale.

    Unless you are vegan of course, which I hope you are when you allow yourself to judge others?

  36. Gary Green
    So it looks like test tube grown meat will be the answer to everyone's moral dilemmas.
    Hurrah hurrah.
    BTW, lots of silliness here but happy to see intelligent heads prevailing.
  37. Dana
    When I was a kid, one of my parents' friends came to visit and had some jerky with him which he offered to us kids. We loved beef jerky, so we tried it. Tasted OK, but was a little strange. My parents asked us, "How do you like that elephant?"

    This was the 1980s but even then elephant-hunting was mostly frowned upon, at least in the United States. To this day I don't know how the friend acquired it.

    Over the years I've had rabbit and frog but I guess the weirdest one I've eaten as an adult would be alligator. And you must eat it freshly cooked: no sticking the leftovers in the fridge overnight to have for lunch the next day. Otherwise it gets rubbery.

    Given a choice I'd rather not have whale or elephant. Whether or not they're endangered, there aren't that many of them. Whereas we've got cattle all over the world, no lack of that whatsoever. I feel human beings need meat whether they want to admit to it or not, so we might as well eat from what's plentiful, rather than what is rare or has the potential to become rare. It's not really about the intelligence though. Us being smart doesn't stop bacteria from eating us once we're dead, you know? And if we really cared about creatures for their intelligence we ought to stop destroying their habitat before we worry about how often or whether we eat them.

    Just my opinion--your mileage may vary, and probably does.

  38. Gary
    "Minkes whales are listed on the endangered species list as a threatened species as there remains only approximately 800,000 minkes in the world. Some Japanese and Russian vessels are still known to hunt minke whales. Minke whales have been protected by international law since 1986, which will hopefully help to stop these countries from hunting these magnificent animals." http://oceanlink.island.net/biodiversity/minke.html
  39. Gary Green
    Whoa! Guess I better grab one and eat it quick before they're all gone.
  40. Egil
    Whale is intelligent food for intelligent people (i.e. Norwegians) :-)
  41. Justine
    Gummy Shark... YUM! Had it on a trip to Aus a couple years back. We don't really get it here in RSA.
  42. Jenn
    Had antelope and zebra when I visited Kenya.
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