How to Prepare Shark Meat for Cooking

Preparing bonnethead shark steaks

Sharks are usually easy to catch, and in many coastal locations around the U.S., they’re plentiful. Shark meat is delicious when properly prepared, but when it’s not handled correctly, it can have the same texture as a rubber ball. To avoid this, you need to know how to prepare shark meat for cooking. What does shark meat taste like? Of course, everyone describes taste a little differently, but to me, it tastes like a combination of fish, chicken, and pork. The flavor is mild, without a strong “fishy” taste.

I’ve caught, handled, and cooked numerous sharks over the years. Some of the species my family and I have consumed include bonnethead, Atlantic sharpnose, sandbar, scalloped hammerhead, and blacktip. All of these fish were yummy, and in fact, shark is my oldest daughter’s favorite fish to eat.

Sharks don’t have bony skeletons. Instead, they contain tough cartilage. Because of tough fibers in the flesh, the shark fillets or steaks need to be manually tenderized before cooking. The meat is also lean, so unless you’re frying it, you’ll probably want to use marinades that contain some type of oil.

Once you’ve caught a shark and decide to eat it, process it as quickly as possible. Please – if you’re not sure the fish will end up on the table, release it unharmed. If you’re absolutely sure you’re going to cook and consume the shark meat, kill the shark by slicing off the head – no need to make the animal suffer any more than necessary. Next, slice the meat into steaks or fillets, about one inch thick. Be sure to remove any bits of skin. Get the meat on ice or in the refrigerator as soon as you can.

Now you’ll need to tenderize the meat by pounding it with a meat mallet. Since the meat is fibrous, I like to use a heavy metal toothed mallet for this. Pound the steaks all over on both sides until they’re about one-half inch thick.  Your shark fillets or steaks are now ready to be fried or placed in a marinade for grilling or broiling.

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