Mike vs great white shark

This week I decided it was time to conquer one of nature’s true beasts.

And by that I don’t mean the Abominable snowman. Or the Tyrannosaurus Rex. I couldn’t find either of those at the butcher.


No, I mean the Great White Shark….!!!!!

Oh sorry, my mistake. Shark definitely, just not the Great White one. Again, they too were hard to come by, especially on short notice.

I had Angel Shark. A shark that’s not really given the media attention like its large and ferocious cousin, however, just as important to the film industry. Check the background shots for jaws, they’re in there. Somewhere.

This is the shark from Jaws right?

I’m incredibly reluctant to say I’ve been super busy, because I mostly think that statements a cop out. However I have had quite a bit on. Including flat hunting. So my time to organise a meat and do all that jazz were limited, so I literally called Ross at Sydney Fresh Seafood and asked if he had anything different in. He did- shark- making my life pretty easy really.

So after a crazy busy, just really flat out like I didn’t even have time to eat, kind of day, cooking up some simple shark at the end of it was a nice change to some of my more detail orientated weeks. Now I must confess that is a blatant lie; I always find time to eat. If you can’t then your priorities need sorting.

‘Busy’ or not, this was a quick and easy meat. I got home from work and NN had been a good supermarket b*tch and not only purchased the shark but everything to go with it, as well as get it all prepared for me to lay my cooking bomb to. For your information- that’s just normal cooking, but done by me.

What did I do to the shark?

It had done nothing to me, yet here I was about to cook and eat it. Bit rough, but we’ll deal with the ethical side of shark eating shortly…

The call for this was a light dusting with Spelt flour, rock salt and cracked pepper. As I generally avoid all thinks wheat and flour, I used a minimal amount of the spelt flour to ever so lightly dust.

I added some butter to the pan as well as some coconut oil. When ready, the shark went in and the aroma started to waft. I had some broccolini and bok choy ready to steam on the element next door.

Once the shark was done I let it rest briefly while the greens softened slightly. I dressed these with some quality butter and a squeeze of lime juice. Then it was time for the shark- this was sprinkled with some lime zest and rock salt and topped off with some fresh lime juice as well.

No matter how wrong it may be to eat shark, with their numbers dwindling worldwide. It did feel quite primal, much like eating crocodile… Sorry Cath!

How did the shark taste?

One of those rare animals where it could be asking its friends the reverse about me; “Oh, I hear you ate Mike, how did he taste?”

I hope that never happens. I digress.

The shark was delicious. Simple, tender, juicy and delightful. The greens went nicely with the meat and overall we were two happy and satisfied diners.

However, it was at this point I started pondering on the idea of shark. It is after all very close to a lot of white fish, just a bit more chunky. If that makes sense. Thoughts of “this is a bit of an easy cop out” were flooding to mind. That was until I used great rational and decided that this Angel Shark is to fish what buffalo is to beef, and I think most would agree they are definitely different animals, so shark and fish are too. Good work me.

Then another ‘however’ came to me. I try to be aware and conscious of sustainability when it comes to eating fish and seafood. In fact I regularly take advantage of the awesome and free app Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, actually designed by a friend and part time client of mine Cath. This app is so easy and quick to use, and has a tonne of information about a wide range of local and imported seafood species. So Cath essentially works as my ethical compass when it comes to eating seafood.

It’s at this stage I’ll point that that I consulted the app and Cath retrospectively. Her words were (verbatim) “Never eat shark. End of”. Oops.

However having done some research and consulted with Cath further, I can gladly bring you some facts on shark fishing numbers, techniques and affect on marine life.

A couple of poignant facts:

  • Sharks are slow-growing, long-lived and late-maturing group of species, producing few young, making all shark species vulnerable to fishing pressure; large declines in shark populations worldwide with several species listed as threatened with extinction by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
  •  Many shark species are still caught without any stock assessments; shark meat also imported from poorly managed fisheries in Asia.
  • They are a keystone species in regulating structure: significant removal of top large predators (we have wiped out 90% of shark populations over the last 50 years) can create an imbalance between predator and prey abundances and diversity, causing a degraded or negative effect on the dynamics of lower tropic levels or a shift on the entire ecosystems.
  • Shark meat is high in toxic methyl-mercury. The legal limit for consumption of methyl-mercury, set by the EPA, is 0.1 microgram per kilogram of body weight. Studies have shown shark meat contains as much as 1,400 micrograms of methyl-mercury in one kilogram. A person weighing 155 lbs would therefore get 50 times the legal amount in one single portion of shark steak.

For more information about Sharks, Shark finning (an illegal process of catching a shark, cutting its fins off and then cruelly throwing them back to slowly die is far too common) and an awesome documentary called Sharkwater click the links in this paragraph.

Now I realise I said above how tasty it was, however, that just turned out to be lucky for me and NN only, as I am going to recommend you do not kill or eat shark! I have made a sacrifice with the intention (albeit retrospectively) of bringing this to a large audience and using this as an example of why shark should be avoided on the menu.

So I may joke about the film industry and its reliance on sharks, how else would we have such awesome blockbusters as the artfully named Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus….

This is an actual movie!

But in all seriousness sharks are beautiful beasts and an important part of our planet and the marine eco system and it would be a tragic shame if they were killed beyond extinction. Yep, beyond extinction. It means really super extinct.

So, let this be a lesson to all- if and where possible, so let’s face it that’s always unless you’re from a remote population or on an isolated island with little on offer- do not eat shark meat.

Not even this guy: the Angel Shark

I personally will be doing my best to avoid it getting anywhere near my mouth again. Unless it is an eat or be eaten scenario. Then I’ll take that sucker down, it’s just nature.

So if you’re looking for new meat inspiration as a part of your healthy diet, lifestyle and getting a lean, ripped and sexy body then look elsewhere. From now on- go.

How do you feel about eating sharks? A taboo meat? Or any seafood for that matter and its sustainability?

This is a much clearer issue when it comes to land animals. No one is going to go and eat a tiger, or a Giant Panda, regardless of how lazy they are…

And I certainly wouldn’t. Again unless it was an eat or be eaten/die situation right? However horse– I’ll happily munch on a juicy equine feast. There are plenty of them. I’ll have the Mr Ed done medium-rare thanks good chap.

However, I have eaten that this year, so next week it will be something different again. What? Who knows…

Any guesses?

And that’s week 43. Officially inside the last ten weeks. Quite the surreal feeling.

Not quite as surreal as the comfort zone/boundary crossing experience I had on Saturday. But I think that’s a story for another time.

Come and have a chat with me on facebook or twitter, otherwise leave a comment below. I’m only happy to talk and help where I can.

Peace and love.

References and acknowledgement:

Cath Leach- marine and plastic eco warrior legend. Check out her awesome work with the Sustainable Seafood Guide here and her anti plastic campaign ‘Along came polymer’

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