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From Ocean to Plate: What Does Whale Meat Taste Like?

The whale has the staple image for being the largest mammal on the planet. Its sheer physical size is intimidating enough to send chills down your spine.


As it turns out, whales aren’t popular for their mammoth physical size alone. In fact, it is considered quite a delicacy in some culinary cultures around the world.

Japan, in specific treat whale meat with utmost reverence and is one of their (hidden) culinary gems.

Although they are not readily available like other conventional staple meats, there is a fair chance you will see it on a menu if you travel to Japan, Iceland, or even Norway.

In fact, you could even try cooking one if you have the resources.

So what does whale meat taste like? And what is the best way to cook it?

What is Whale Meat?


Whale meat refers to a broad class of meat that primarily includes the family of cetaceans. This family of “consumable” whales includes dolphins, porpoises, whales, etc.

Apart from that, whale meat is a general term for refereeing to some crucial (meaty) part of the fish, such as organ meat, muscle, or fats.

In many cuisine cultures around the globe, people eat whale meat for various purposes. For instance, the consumption of whale meat in Japan is an ancient practice and is considered a rare delicacy. 

However, in other regions like Iceland and Norway, whale meat is more of a necessary option due to limited meat availability.   

What Does Whale Taste Like? Does Whale Meat Taste Good?


Since it is a delicacy in many cultures, and some consider it outright illegal, not many people have to good fortune of claiming they have tasted whale meat.

None the less, the scare number of people who have tasted whale meat describe the meat as being something similar to moose meat, or a reindeer. Apart from that, it is also known to have a very chewy consistency.

Since whales are mammals, their authentic taste is more synonymous with other staple meats like beef, as opposed to their other aquatic companions such as swordfish.

It is worth noting that only a select few whale species are ideal and also safe for consumption. The most popular species of whale that in Japan is Minke whale.

Nutrition wise, whale meat is similar to shark meat due to its rich fat content. Minke whale, in particular, has some impressive nutritional characteristics that set it apart from other fish meats.  

How to Cook Whale Meat?

cook whale meat

Whale meat is treated differently in various regions around the world.

But, Japanese culture has the most comprehensive method of cooking whale meat. The meat has been around in Japanese cuisine since before 800 AD.

The whale meat is usually cut in two different portions – the tail meat and the belly meat. The tail meat, aka unesu is normally prepared as white bacon. The tail meat, aka, onomi, on the other hand, is usually eaten as tataki or sashimi.

In Norway, people cook whale meat in a pot to create a distinctive broth and served with vegetables, potato, and flatbrod (traditional bread).

Apart from the above traditional cooking approaches, there are also some unique whale meat recipes that you can try cooking yourself.

Also, before you proceed to take up a whale cooking venture, you should keep its toxic nature into consideration. Like any other carnivore marine mammals, whales have a high level of mercury, which is harmful for consumption.

It is also not considered smart to eat whale meat raw, at least if it is not prepared by a professional.


Whale meat, undoubtedly, is one of the most exotic meats you can try.

It has a good amount of nutritional benefits, something that Japanese culture deem extremely important.

If you are tired of eating/cooking the same old tuna or salmon, whale meat is something you should definitely check out, assuming it is available in your region.


What Does Whale Taste Like? Does Whale Meat Taste Good?

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Food Taste
Servings 1 Serving


  • Whale fillet / meat
  • Ingredients from your favorite recipes


  • Depending on the recipes you choose, the taste can vastly differ.
  • For authentic results, it is important to choose a recipe that will highlight the original flavor.
  • Have fun experimenting with different recipes and taste tests!
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