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Can You Eat Starfish?

You’re walking along the beach and suddenly, you come to a small tide pool, only to look down and find a starfish!

Like their distant relative, the sand dollar, the starfish lacks blood and a brain. This mysterious creature leaves many of us asking the question, Can you eat starfish?


Surprisingly, the answer is yes, and seagulls aren’t the only ones who enjoy them as a unique snack. Starfishes are a delicacy and popular street food that you might consider trying if you ever travel abroad to Asia.

Do People Eat Starfish?

You won’t find starfish on most restaurant menus in North America, but a starfish on a stick is a popular treat in and around China and Japan.

These invertebrates are carnivorous and found in the wild on beaches and the world’s oceans. The most prevalent species has five legs, but some types can have as many as 20 legs.

Wild predators have a disadvantage in attacking starfishes because their hardened skin and bright colors protect them and help them camouflage into the environment.

Fried starfish at pichaiyuan or pichai street food in qingdao, china

What Does a Starfish Taste Like?

The taste of a starfish is an acquired one. Some people compare the taste with Chinese river crabs or Qingdao sea urchins.

When you eat a starfish, your taste buds can savor a soft and creamy texture that may or may not seem bitter, depending on your palate.

Fried starfish belly

There is some controversy surrounding the taste of starfishes. Many compare it to the taste of sea urchins, ocean water, or the smell of a beach.

Others say that starfish meat is tasteless. If you don’t like how starfish meat tastes plain, you can dip it in a sauce to enhance its flavor.

Are Starfish Edible?

The starfish is a delicacy, and only a tiny portion of it is edible. The outside of a starfish has sharp shells and tube feet, which are not edible. However, you can consume the meat inside each of its five legs.

Fried starfishs on sticks selling at Wangfujing night market of Beijing, China
Fried starfish on sticks selling at Wangfujing night market of Beijing, China

Some parts on the outside of a starfish are poisonous, so it’s best not to prepare one yourself, but rather order it from someone who knows what they’re doing.

The best way to eat one is to break off each leg and crack it open by applying pressure on the middle of the feet.

The green-gray mushy meat is what you can eat when you dig it out with a fork, your fingers, or your tongue.

Can You Eat a Starfish Raw?

Starfish are typically deep-fried or cooked in boiling saltwater, which is the most popular cooking method.

Starfish on the beach

A boiled starfish takes about five minutes to cook and should be cooled in a bowl of cold water for 15 seconds when you take it out.

You can’t eat a starfish raw because of its natural composition and because live ones regenerate broken legs.

It is best if the starfish you intend to eat is live before you prepare it to cook, but you can also use ones that have been dead for less than 24 hours.

Is It Safe to Eat a Starfish?

While it is safe to eat a cooked starfish, you should be careful never to eat the shell since some species have poisonous casings.

You won’t find this kind of fish for sale in Western grocery stores, but you can find it in most restaurants throughout Asia and some sushi bars.

tropical starfish under water

If you decide to prepare a starfish at home, make sure to purchase it from a reputable seller and cook it using the boiling method.

While you shouldn’t eat a starfish that you find randomly on the beach, it is possible to eat one if you ever travel to Asia. It is a great way to experience local cuisine.

If you do decide to give one a try, ensure that you’re ordering it from a reputable vendor, and if you plan on digging out the meat with your fingers, be sure to bring extra napkins!

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