Why don’t people (often) eat koi?

There are obvious reasons for not eating a $5000 prize fish, but there are plenty of koi in the wild. Apparently they have lots of bones and taste crap, but that’s true of plenty of fish and a good recipe can make up for anything. I therefore think there might be another reason.

Koi tend to live in slow moving or stagnant water, so I wonder if they particularly¬†accumulate diseases, pollution and/ or parasites. There’s a story that eating the koi from “Abraham’s Pond” in Sanliurfa in Eastern Turkey makes you go blind and while that is unlikely to literally be true, such culinary taboos tend to be based on some kind of health risk (as, apparently, with pork in Arabia).


  1. elyse said,

    May 26, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Koi are just colorful carp, and people do eat carp.

    However, the bright, rich colors and clear patterns that one thinks of when they think of koi does not occur often in the wild, as they are the product of centuries of careful breeding. Released back into the wild, they breed back into dull red or black and typical shades of brown within just a few generations. The carp on your plate might have a bright red spot, but it is a matter of opinion of whether it is “koi”.

  2. Higanbana said,

    January 3, 2016 at 11:25 am

    It’s also a matter of taste. As my husband explained it to me, lake fish taste muddy quite often, so if you have the choice between delicious sea fish and muddy lake fish, why would anybody sane in his mind go for the latter? So only if people as e.g. Nagano people, who still have a custom for eating koi, had difficult or even no access to the sea, they went for the secondbest.

    But anyway, you wouldn’t eat the colourful ones for its price, they taste exactly the same as a wild grey one as a colleague of my father’s can witness to. But the grey ones are more than affordable so if you want you can also have koi for dinner though they might be a bit difficult to get outside of Nagano Prefecture.

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