Is it legal to eat Koi Carp and are they good eating?
In most places around the world Koi Carp are expensive ornamental fish in people’s garden ponds and lakes. So the question is, can you eat Koi Carp, but then why would you want to? Let’s take a look…
Can you eat Koi Carp in 15 seconds…
Whilst Koi Carp are expensive to buy, yes you can eat Koi carp fish. Although the majority of people regard Koi fish as ornamental pets for their garden ponds or lakes, rather than for the dinner plate. It’s good to note that Koi Carp, like other carp species make good candidates for an aquaponics system due to their hardiness and their ability to survive in a range of water temperatures. But having said that it’s not recommended to begin with Koi fish when you first start out due to their high price tag!
Can you eat Koi Carp or are the poisonous?
In answer to the question can you eat Koi Carp, the simple answer is yes you can eat Koi fish. The other good news about Koi fish is that they are not poisonous, great news if you would like to try eating them. But even better news if you want to include them as the fish in your aquaponics system!
In fact you can probably each most, if not all fish species. The real question about Koi Carp is whether you would want to eat them and do they taste good to eat? To answer this question, it’s best to look at the origin of the species first
The origins of Koi fish
Koi fish are not just the coloured variety of the Amur carp species. The ‘eating’ Koi look more like normal carp species and in fact look a bit like the Common Carp. They are a cold water species and were originally grown in Japanese paddy fields as food fish. An old fashioned aquaponics system if you like, albeit in the outdoors.
The fish would survive in the water used to grow the rice plants. Their faeces would help with the fertilisation of the rice plants, just like it does with any aquaponics system. However, I appreciate that a paddy rice field isn’t a true aquaponics system, but the concept is similar.
The Japanese would not only eat the rice from the paddy fields, but they’d also eat the Koi Carp too. But it’s also worth noting that it was the Chinese that first bred carp for colour over 1,000 years ago.
What does Koi fish taste like
Many argue that should remain as an ornamental fish and that they don’t taste good. But you may change your mind after watching the video below!
The saying; “we are what we eat“, is worth using here. Like all carp species, and Koi fish are no different, they can survive in muddy ponds and lakes, which is a bit like the paddy fields which consisted of muddy water. The environment they live in will taint the flavour of the meat. This means you are better to keep your water clean if you intend to eat you Koi fish.
How to prepare Koi fish for eating
The flesh of Koi fish can be quite tough, so they are better cooked for a long time. A traditional Japanese dish called Koi Umani is cooked for 9 hours and is a bit like a stew. To prepare this dish you need to slice your Koi in to big pieces and simmer with Soy sauce, sugar and Sake (or rice wine) (see video below for more).
It is the nine-hour cooking time that softens the Koi flesh, whilst at the same time thickens the sauce. It’s delicious, and if cooked in the right way very tender too.
Koi Carp and aquaponics – Koi aquaponics systems
If you’ve come to this page searching just on the question about can you eat Koi Carp, you may not have considered the ways in which you can rear your own Koi fish food supply. Enter the Koi aquaponics system.
If you’re not familiar with what an aquaponics system is, it is a system that combines growing plants (usually vegetable or fruit producing plants) with rearing fish. The fish provide the plants with the nutrients they need, whilst the plants clean the water for the fish.
This is a perfect symbiotic relationship that works on a small-large scale. You can build your own backyard aquaponics system to produce your own vegetables and fish food, all at a reasonable cost too. The perfect system if you only eat fish and vegetables! Or if you simply want to harvest your own food produce from your backyard!
The major benefit of using Koi fish in an aquaponics system is that they are highly tolerant of a wide range of water temperatures. They are also quite a hardy fish species and can survive in water with low levels of oxygen too. Koi carp thrive best in water temperatures between 2-10°C (35-50° F), but they are able to survive outside of this range as well. The benefit to aquaponics growers is with a Koi aquaponics system, you won’t need to heat the water to keep your fish healthy.
However, if this is your very first aquaponics system, you may be better to begin with an even more hardier and less expensive fish that Koi Carp. This is the Tilapia fish, which is an almost indestructible fish.
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