I’ve had several people ask me lately – can you eat stingray and how does it taste? Here’s my answer. Yes, you can eat stingray and it tastes like shark to me, which I like a lot. Others have said it reminds them of the taste of scallops or even lobster…that’s pretty good too!
Now that you know that you can eat stingray and they are tasty, are you interested in learning where to find stingray, how to catch them and how to prepare them for a delicious meal? If you are, read on.
What’s a stingray?
What’s a stingray? A stingray is a cartilaginous fish. That being, their skeleton is made out of cartilage, not bone. In contrast, most fish have a skeleton of bone.
They are in the same family of fish like sharks and skates. Scientifically, they fall under the class name of Chondrichthyes and are individually named Myliobatoidei. Stingrays are ovoviviparous, meaning babies are hatched from within the mothers’ body. Skates are different they are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs.
A stingray is a flatfish, almost disc-like, with a long like tail/stinger. In some stingrays, this stinger can secrete poison, therefore be careful and see below (Be Careful). Their mouth and gills are on the underside of the fish. In some stingrays, their jaws are extremely powerful. As a result, they are able to crush shellfish to obtain meat for food.
Where Do You Find Stingrays?
Where do you find stingrays? Stingrays can be found mostly in coastal tropical and subtropical waters. In most cases, you will find them in warm shallow water on a sandy bottom. Many times buried and hidden in the sand. In Africa and South America, there are some freshwater stingrays that keep to rivers. There have also been reports of stingrays in the Mississippi River of the United States.
The Atlantic stingray is common along the Atlantic coast of North America and down to Mexico. Other stingrays are common throughout the world including the Caribbean and along the Australian coast. Australia is home to about 50 different species of stingrays. Queensland claiming about 21 species – Queensland Museum.
I did say stingrays are most common in tropical and subtropical waters, but they are also common in Britsh and Irish waters. Thornback rays being the most common. They can get big too. 21 12 oz being the British shore record.
How Do You Catch A Stingray?
There are two methods I use. An old fashioned rod and reel and spearfishing.
Rod and reel
When using a rod and reel I just use a regular fishing rig. You don’t need anything special. Just a running ledger works great. Use a 3.5 to 7.5 ft. trace of 40 or 50 lb monofilament line with a single hook. For the proper weight take note of the conditions such as the tide and use the correct weight accordingly.
For bait, I like to use shrimp or squid. Remember stingrays are mostly bottom feeders, so get your line down to the sandy bottom.
I’ve Got One!
Here’s the fun part! Once hooked a stingray can really play with you. Their flat powerful body can dig into the sand and put up a great deal of resistance.
Once you get a ray close to the surface expect them to take a dive. Be calm and let them do it. You don’t’ want to force anything.
Let’s Land it
Ok, you are ready to land this stingray. First, be careful of not only the stinger/tail but many stingrays are covered with sharp spines. DO NOT PICK IT UP FROM THE TAIL.
Grab the stingray at the side of their head. You will feel a ridge of cartilage. Hold onto it firmly with the stingray away from your body. There you go. You have a stingray.
KEEP YOUR FINGERS AWAY FROM THE MOUTH. As mentioned they have powerful jaws that can crush shellfish and bone (fingers). Using plyers/forceps is always handy and safe to use when removing the hook.
When able, spearfishing is always my favorite method when going after any fish. If you’re interested in spearfishing click directly to spearoscout.com for many posts on the subject that hopefully, you find interesting and helpful. It’s my website devoted to spearfishing.
When spearfishing for stingrays you need to look for flat sandy bottoms in most cases. At times you need to take a really good look. I’m sure there have been many a time when I have swum right over one. They can blend right into their surroundings. Sometimes they will bury themselves into the sand.
Are stingrays dangerous? Well, yes they can be but in most cases are not. In many ways, they are a gentle fish and can be harmful when provoked or stepped on by an unaware swimmer. This is due to them hiding in the sand to hide from other small fish, crab, lobster, and shrimp they like to eat.
When provoked a stingray thrusts its tail with spines into the intruder. These spines will release venom which can produce great discomfort and in rare cases death. Some of you might have heard of the tragic death of Steve Irwin, an environmentalist, and conservationist. A stingray repeatedly stabbed him in the chest hundreds of times piercing his heart. Sadly, he bled to death – Steve Irwin.
If you do get stung by a stingray please go and have a professional healthcare provider treat the wound. If needed, spines will be removed and proper antibiotics will be given. In most cases, the wound will heal in a couple of weeks.
How To Clean/Fillet A Stingray
Ok. now it’s time to clean/fillet your stingray. This is how you do it.
First, you are going to need a couple of tools.
Fillet knife – A good fillet knife always comes in handy with any fish. They are great to make precise cuts, resulting in less waste…more fish for you. I highly recommend the fillet knife below.
Pliers – Pliers are another great tool to have when cleaning a stingray. You can probably guess why. You will want to pull that stinger out…be careful! They can still produce venom.
Yes, you can, of course, cut the entire tail off if you wish and stay away from the stinger. Cut the tail right at the base of the body. A great way of deposing the stinger or tail (depending on size) is to put it in a plastic bottle and seal it up and depose it. Again be careful of that stinger it can still produce venom. Yes, I’ve said it again.
A great pair of tweezers are very helpful to peel the skin away from the meat.
Steps to Fillet – Quick and easy
- Cut the wings off. Give yourself about a 1/4 inch from the base of the body and wing and make your cut. You don’t want to cut too close to the body.
- Discard the body and carefully make an incision into the skin of one of the wings. Using the tweezers in your other hand pull away from the skin and membrane from the meat. You are pulling away from the skin and membrane as you slice the meat.
- Lay the wing down and make cuts laterally, according to the size of fillet you want. You, of course, can make several fillets if desired.
Take a look at this video to help you get a better idea. I like this video. It’s not me. They don’t cut the wings entirely off, but it’s a good alternative method.
Time To Eat!
Great job in cleaning and filleting your stingray! Now it’s time to cook and eat. As mentioned stingray tastes like shark to me and to others compare it to scallops and lobster. Stingray has a very nice firmish texture.
There are a couple of ways I like to prepare stingray.
Here are my two simple go-to recipes…tasty!
- Beer batter them and have some delicious fish n’ chips. The following quick recipe is for 8, 4oz fillets, so add ingredients accordingly. 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, 3 tablespoons of paprika, 2 teaspoons of black pepper, 1 egg, 1 bottle of your favorite beer and a little salt. Mix all the ingredients together adding the beer last. Once complete dip the fish completely in the batter until they are fully coated. After that, dip the battered fish into 2 quarts of hot vegetable oil (365 degrees). You want the batter to turn a nice golden brown (about 10 – 12 minutes). Once done there you have it…delicious!
- Saute them – This is quick, easy and delicious. 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and get that going. Put the fish in and add some garlic and white wine. Don’t overdo the fish. Just a couple of minutes on each side. Add pepper and salt to taste and you are done.
So, I hope you found this guide useful. In review…yes you can eat stingray and in my opinion, it tastes great. A little bit like shark. In fact, a stingray has very similar characteristics to a shark. Some say it’s a flattened shark.
They’re beautiful gentle fish but be careful many of them have a deadly venomous stinger in their tail that can be used when provoked.
Now go out a try and catch a stingray!