What Does Starfish Taste Like?

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When you think of different varieties of seafood, what types of food come to mind? Do you primarily think of things like crab, shrimp, and fish? Maybe you also think of lobster, oysters, and scallops as well!

What about starfish? Starfish can be a very popular and tasty food in some cultures and is a classic in Chinese street food. 

While we don’t always think of those adorable star creatures as being an edible snack, they really are.

When it comes to specialty items like this, it’s not something you will find just anywhere. However, if you come across it, you may want to know just what to expect from the flavor. 

What does starfish taste like? The actual meat of starfish tends to have a fairly subtle flavor with a slight hint of bitterness. Some people have said that you can taste the saltiness and essence of ocean water in starfish. In terms of its texture, it is a slightly chunky, creamy meat, similar to ground beef.

In this guide, we will discuss just what a starfish tastes like. We will talk about where you are most likely to find starfish and let you know just what to expect.

This is a very unique food so we will uncover the flavor, texture, smells, and even how it’s eaten or prepared to help you fully understand just what you are getting into. 

Keep reading to learn what starfish tastes like and more! 

Starfish Explained

Has someone ever offered you starfish to eat? While many areas never have this on their menu, it’s a tasty and popular treat in other areas.

Consider coastal cities of China that have street vendors and fresh food available. They have delicacies and far different food choices than what you might find at a street truck in the USA. 

One common and surprisingly popular option is starfish.

Starfish can be found in any ocean and is a common sea life but many of us have never really considered starfish to be food—and yet it can be! Again, in some areas, these are surprisingly popular. 

When no longer in water, starfish become very rigid and hard. Their star arms are hardened and dried out and the top side will be sharp and slightly rigid as well.

If you touch the top or turn it over and look at those tiny little tube feet, it probably doesn’t look super appetizing. 

You don’t immediately see any meat or anything that looks remotely edible here. The edible part, however, is nestled down inside of the legs. It is not recommended to eat the outside of the starfish. 

We will look at this in a bit more detail later in this guide. 

Starfish Flavor

The flavor of starfish is somewhat unique. It’s not something you can easily identify or compare to just anything. It is seafood but the flavor doesn’t taste like fish or crab right away so it’s hard to make an exact distinction on the flavor. 

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to taste sea urchin or even Chinese river crabs, these will be your best comparison for flavor purposes.

The meat of sea urchins is pretty similar in flavor and river crabs have brains that you eat. Those brains are similar in flavor to what you can expect here as well

These dishes are typically considered to be an acquired taste. You may need to try it one or two times to really get a feel for it or to decide you like it. It’s not something we can easily describe as a flavor. 

One of the best descriptors that we can give you is that the meat is a little bit creamy and a little bit bitter in flavor as well.

There will certainly be people who do not enjoy the flavor but for those open to trying new things, we do highly recommend it. 

The key here is that it really takes a very specific starfish in order to have good flavor. Some starfish do not taste great. This is why it is more of a delicacy and much harder to find on the menu at your local seafood restaurant of choice. 

For the most part, the meat doesn’t have a lot of flavor. It’s almost considered to be tasteless but it does have a lot by way of texture and it also has a hint of bitterness.

Some people recommend using a dipping sauce or some form of seasoning to improve the flavor. 

Starfish Texture

The texture is easy to describe with starfish. Unfortunately, the texture also may make it unappealing to a lot of people. If you open up a leg, this is where the meat is. You don’t eat any of the outsides of the starfish

Oftentimes, the texture is compared to a kind of creamy ground beef, and this is actually a good reference to explain the texture. 

The meat is soft while also being creamy, mushy, and moist. This is where some people have issues with the texture because it’s just an unusual and mushy texture that can be off-putting.

However, if you’re willing to give it a try and don’t find yourself generally bothered by unusual textures, you might just find that you like it! 

The meat is a brownish-green color which also may not make it look appetizing. 

Starfish Smell

There is not much information to find as to what starfish smells like. When you look at what other people say about starfish, the smell is not something they usually describe.

What we’ve learned is that starfish doesn’t necessarily have a lot of flavor to it but it is slightly bitter and creamy in your mouth. It also doesn’t have a very strong scent to it either.

How Starfish Is Prepared

It is important to be cautious about what starfish you eat. Purchase it from trusted sources and don’t just pick up a random starfish from the beach to prepare on your own.

Some starfish are actually poisonous so you need to rely on an expert that knows the food

There are different ways that starfish can be prepared. Some people actually deep fry them but it is also common to boil them in salted water as well.

Boiling is perhaps the most popular preparation method for a starfish. 

The boiling is done while the starfish is fully intact. Once it has been boiled, it is generally placed in cold water.

If you’ve ever eaten crab or lobster, the eating process will be pretty similar here. You might need a good pair of pliers or a mallet to get into the legs of the starfish to the meat. 

When you buy this from a street vendor on the shores of China, it comes to you on a stick with no tools or utensils. Typically, it is desired that the starfish is either live when prepared or has been dead for less than 24 hours. 

There isn’t a lot of meat in those legs. The meat can either be sucked out of the leg or you can scoop it out and then season it and eat it.

Related Questions

We hope that this guide to understanding what starfish tastes like is a helpful resource for you. Starfish is a very unique food but it can be great if you’re willing to step out and try something new! 

Check out these common questions for some additional information as well. 

Is it legal to eat starfish? 

There are places in California that it is illegal to harvest starfish. However, in other areas it is legal. China is the most popular place to find starfish in the food markets and it is legal there

Are starfish poisonous? 

Some starfish can be poisonous. This is why it is important that you don’t just randomly pick up starfish and try to eat or prepare them on your own.

Trust someone who knows what is or is not safe to ensure you aren’t eating a toxic species

Can you eat raw starfish? 

You should not eat starfish raw. It’s best if it is boiled or deep-fried as we shared earlier in this guide. You also should never eat a whole starfish either. They are hard and very sharp on the exterior.

Eating a starfish in this way could cause serious harm. When you eat a starfish, it should be cooked and you should only consume the meat. 

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