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Can You Eat Sunfish?

Sunfish, or mola, is a wonderful ocean fish that is easily caught in many areas. Many varieties of sunfish are large and bulky, and they are sometimes mistaken for sharks.

ocean sunfish mola mola

Can you eat sunfish? Yes, but there are circumstances to consider.

Can You Eat Sunfish?

Many people enjoy eating sunfish, and it is a traditional dish in many communities who have eaten it for generations.

a sunfish swimming

Sunfish lends itself to specific preparation. There may be environmental and legal concerns about this fish, so people who are planning to eat it should be aware of these factors.


Sunfish have a unique flavor that some people compare to bass and others compare to lobster.

Ocean Sunfish Mola Mola Swimming Underwater

They are a scaly fish with a heavy taste. In Asian countries, they are sometimes used to flavor soups or sauces. They can have an odor that turns some people off. 


Sunfish are safe to eat and can be consumed regularly. Many guidelines recommend that women who may become pregnant and children under the age of 15 limit consumption of sunfish to once each week. 

a mola mola fish


It is legal for people with a fishing license to catch and eat sunfish in the United States.

a mola mola fish swimming

It is illegal to eat sunfish in the European Union countries because the fish are considered to be endangered.

Check the laws in your area before you eat sunfish just to be sure. Many Asian countries consider them a delicacy.


One three-ounce serving of sunfish contains over 21 grams of protein. The fish also contains many vitamins, including A and some B vitamins and is a good source of potassium and folate.

a mola mola fihs underwater

This is a nutritious fish and does not contain a large amount of toxic substances.



Fileting this fish must be done slowly and carefully to avoid cutting into or ripping the filet.

an ocean sunfish swimming

Use a sharp knife to carefully remove the meat of the fish from the skin, starting with the area near the tail. Work in sections to avoid losing your focus.

Pan Fry

To pan-fry sunfish, cut the fish into fillets. Then add salt, pepper, and any additional seasonings you like. Sage and coriander are nice spices for sunfish. Coat the seasoned fish in flour.

a mola mola sunfish swimming

Then add a shallow layer of cooking oil to your pan, and heat it. Place the fish in the oil for about three minutes on each side until they are golden brown. 


To bake sunfish, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then place each sunfish filet onto a piece of aluminum foil.

a sunfish and a diver

Add any seasonings you like. This is an excellent way of using fresh seasonings. Try dill or rosemary. You can also add a slice of lemon. Fold the aluminum around the fish to create a packet.

Bake the packets in the oven for about fifteen minutes.


You can grill sunfish but t is recommended that you use a special device for grilling fish or that you grill the fish in packets because the meat of the fish is delicate.

a single sunfish


Raw sunfish is occasionally used in sushi, particularly in Japan. Sushi made with sunfish is considered a delicacy and can be more expensive than sushi made using other kinds of fish.

a mola mola sunfish and a diver underwater

Final Thoughts

Sunfish are endangered in some areas and may have to be caught well into the ocean waters, but you can safely eat this fish.

Many consider it delicious and healthy. When you are preparing the fish, take note of the scaly nature of the meat and proceed accordingly.

This is not a fish that can be treated like red meat on a grill.

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