April 11

Sarah Robertson

Can You Eat Koi Fish?

Koi are a popular pond fish kept in homes throughout the world. These colorful, "brocaded" carp may be found in a variety of vibrant colors, beautiful patterning, and are often kept for their aesthetic qualities. Koi are typically regarded as good luck and long life in Asia, owing to their spiritual and cultural significance.

 As it is very easy to pet koi fish, they have become a popular choice for those looking for low-maintenance friendly fish. But can you eat koi fish? The answer is yes, they are edible fish. Even though these pet species are not typically eaten as food, some people may find that they enjoy the taste of these fish. 

Koi was originally bred in rice-fish symbiosis in Japan as a food fish. However, the ascetic allure of koi outstripped their status as food fish, and they became a sign of prosperity and longevity. They are revered in many parts of the world and are associated with good fortune.

So Can You Eat Koi Fish?

Because common carp is eaten in many parts of the world, it's reasonable to assume that koi are as well. Despite their poor reputation as table food, Amur carp can be delectable because they have been selectively culled for their unique coloration.

However, it is very important to make sure not to injure the gallbladder when cooking it. Carp bile, along with being bitter, has been accused of being harmful to the liver and kidneys, owing to its primary component, Cuprinol sulfate, which can harm the liver and kidneys.

What Does Koi Fish Taste Like? 

People are frequently hesitant about the flavor of koi fish. Koi fish are known to be rich in natural oils. Still, any way you slice it, its texture is much rougher than most of the other fishes. As the flavor of fish is influenced by what they've eaten in part. These freshwater fish occasionally have a muddy, rough, and oily taste. Koi fish are preferred by some and despised by others. It just depends on the flavors you personally enjoy.

How Do You Cook Koi Fish?

Koi fish are a little more difficult to prepare than other carp fish, and they dwell in freshwater environments. Some koi that are bred for consumption may have an overpowering odor of mud and may not appear to be eatable. Although the taste varies greatly depending on how you cook it.

 The algae in freshwater have a foul stench, so before cooking them, quarantine your koi fish to eliminate the aftertaste. If you want more taste, go for smaller koi fish. Smaller koi will have a greater flavor with many delicate bones, while bigger versions will provide more meat and fewer thin bones.

A Little History of Koi in Culture & Cuisine

The reputation of these fish species is excellent across the world. They are frequently recognized as a symbol of good fortune and luck. They are freshwater fish and are highly regarded for their spiritual and cultural importance across many civilizations, often signifying peace, friendship, and wealth to luck.

They have different meanings in different variety of cultures. Koi can be found in many different colors, making them a popular choice for ornamental fish. Even though they have rough and mild meat, in some parts of the world, these exotic fish are even considered a delicacy.

Koi in Culture & Cuisine

Japanese Culture and Cuisine

The popular Japanese koi that are now common inhabitants of backyard ponds today are supposed to have originated in Japan in the 19th century when the Japanese rice farmers began to capture and breed carp in rice paddies as a practical and dependable food source. The carp was manageable and thrived in the dual-use rice paddies, making it ideal for domestication. However, Koi fish have grown to be much more significant throughout Japanese culture in recent years.

Koi fish is strongly connected with Japan's cultural heritage. They are frequently compared to Samurai warriors in Japan, owing to their fighting spirit and perseverance. The koi fish is a common and ancient Japanese symbol that represents material and spiritual wealth, as well as good fortune in life.

They may also be used to represent perseverance and luck. Each of the many hues of koi fish has its own meaning, too. Koi fish are also well-known for making perilous, life-threatening journeys upstream as part of their existence cycle. This fish's remarkable trek comes to mind when we think about its perseverance and determination.

However, eating koi has become very popular in Japan. They're a delicacy in certain regions of the country and are frequently seen at weddings and other important events. They are used in preparing a variety of foods. Although they aren't as popular as other kinds of fish, koi have a devoted following in the culinary world. Koi fish can be used in many different dishes, such as sushi, sashimi, tempura, and teriyaki.

Buddhist Culture and Cuisine

The koi fish is also a Buddhist symbol. The image of koi fish may be found in numerous temples and works of art all over the world. In Asian culture, the image of koi fish represents good fortune and prosperity, although its history and significance are frequently misunderstood and disregarded.

 As for Buddhists, Koi fish are a symbol of bravery and they represent someone who can go through the "ocean of suffering" with confidence. It's quite similar to an old Japanese myth about a carp that became a dragon in the end.

Koi fish are not eaten as food in Buddhist culture.  They are considered very meaningful fishes and are only kept as decorative fish and are not to be killed. The story of the koi fish is often used as an analogy for human suffering, with the carp swimming upstream symbolizing the journey of life.

Chinese Culture and Cuisine

According to Chinese myth, there was a location called Dragon's Gate at the top of a huge waterfall on the Yellow River. Carp would swim upstream against the current to get to the bottom of the fall. It was considered a courageous and brave thing to attempt the final jump up the waterfall, with only a few people daring and capable enough.

 It was said that if a carp succeeded in traveling through Dragon's Gate at the top of the falls, it would be transformed into an extremely strong dragon. The dragon is a potent symbol in Chinese culture. The tale illustrates that people who are able to withstand severe tests might reach their greatest objectives of becoming great.

Koi fish was originated in China and has a long history in Chinese culture. These species of fish were later bought in Japan. In ancient times, koi fish were only kept by the wealthy and were a symbol of power and prestige. Nowadays, koi fish are generally represented in contemporary New Year photographs. It represents good fortune, money, and social standing.

Perhaps it's because it has such vibrant colors and designs. In fact, traditional Chinese art places a high value on a thick and hefty color scheme. Isn't it amazing how the appearance of koi fish looks in this scenario? As a result, it is typically present in traditional New Year pictures.

However, Chinese people do not eat koi fish as they are sacred fish. They believe that koi fish should be respected and not eaten because they are a symbol of strength, power, monetary wealth, and perseverance.

koifish care

Other Countries

Even though koi fish are most popular in Japan and China, people in other countries also adore their beauty. There are numerous places all over the world where you can find koi fish for sale in aquariums and pet stores. People who have never even been to Asia have grown to love these colorful fish. They are bred in many different colors and patterns and can be found in almost every country.

They are also used as a food source in some cultures. In Vietnam, for example, koi fish are often used in a dish called koi so. This is a type of soup that also includes vegetables and other kinds of fish. The koi fish is usually fried before it is added to the soup. In India, koi fish are used to make a dish called koi machi. This is a spicy, grilled fish dish that is served with rice. There are several other nations where koi fish are considered a delicacy and are used in various recipes.

Facts You Should Know About Koi Fish

  • Koi fish were originally introduced to Japan as a source of food.
  • The freshwater koi fish is descended from the hardy Carp, which is so adaptable that it may be found almost everywhere in the world.
  • Japanese farmers observed the brilliant color patches on carp and bred them to produce the gorgeous fish we have today.
  • The first koi fish were presented to the Japanese emperor as a gift in 1914 to adorn the imperial palaces more.
  • Koi fish are not goldfish. They are distant relatives since they come from carp.
  • The world's biggest koi fish, according to Guinness World Records, measures four feet long and weighs 91 pounds! The enormous fish was subsequently sold to Geoff Lawton, a koi enthusiast, where she went by the name Big Girl.
  • Koi fish are omnivores that will eat just about anything you offer them, including lettuce and watermelon.
  • Koi fish can get sunburns, so provide them with some shade during the summertime.
  • Koi fish are also the most beautiful when they swim together. They also like having other koi fish around.
  • The oldest koi fish ever was a male named Hanako, who was born in 1791 and died in 1977, which represents an astonishing 226 years!
  • There are about 50-100 different kinds of koi varieties.
  • These species of carp are surprisingly clever. This allows koi parents to teach their koi fish to accept hand-feeding and even ring a bell for a treat.
  • The koi fish has great spiritual significance and is believed to be a symbol of perseverance, determination, money, success, and good fortune.
  • Because koi fish are so colorful, they're more likely to be hunted by predators such as cats, birds of prey, and raccoons, making it difficult for them to survive.
  • Female Koi may lay up to 50,000 eggs during a single breeding season, with only half of them hatching if they are not given adequate care.

How to Catch Koi Fish? 

To safely capture your fish, you'll need the proper sorts of fishing nets. A long-handled fishing net with a tightly wound fine mesh is ideal for most ornamental pond fish. Keep in mind that you don't want fish fins or scales getting caught in the holes (about ¼ inch or less for koi). Nets with a larger grid or knotted mesh might harm your fish.

In terms of depth, the net should be shallow enough that your fish don't get trapped in it. The size of the net would be determined by the size of your fish or how many you intend to capture at once.

To remove the fish, you may also choose to use a sock net (below), which is the preferred net for koi breeders. This is a sort of net that allows koi to move in the same direction when being moved between tanks. This ensures that fins do not get entangled in the opposite direction, preventing injury.

Slowly and carefully lower the fishing net into the water at a slant that will keep it from displacing too much water. Place the net beneath the fish you want to catch and nudge them forward (should be simpler near a wall or edge).

To prevent the fish from becoming frightened, carefully lift the net without sudden motions. Transfer the fish to an aerated tank or container as swiftly as possible, ideally with a mesh cover to keep it from leaping out.

Koi Recipes

Koi Recipes

Koi fish can be eaten in a variety of ways. In fact, they have sometimes been considered a delicacy and are used in various recipes. Some of the more popular koi recipes include:

1. Koi Tel Jhal

Koi Tel Jhal is a Bengali koi fish curry. This curry has a lot of oil in it. With complex tastes from the fish and freshly made cumin paste, the gravy appears oily and dark. The second most important factor that decides the taste of this dish is the spice mix that you prepare. This meal is simple to prepare and goes well with rice.


  • 500 g Koi Fish

Spice paste:

  • 1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 2-inch ginger
  • 3 pc red chilly
  • 2 pc green chilly

For Frying the Fish and Preparing the Curry:

  • 7 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds (or Kalo jeera)
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 pc green chilies, slit in half length-wise
  • 2 cups water
  • salt to taste

For the Fish Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mustard oil


Soak the cumin seeds and red chili peppers for an hour. If you don't have much time, you can also soak them in boiling water for 15 minutes. Peel the ginger and use a mixer-grinder to grind it with cumin seeds, green chilies, soaked chilies, and ginger.

Then marinate the fish with turmeric, salt, and mustard oil. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes in the fridge.

For frying, add oil to the wok and once the oil smokes, ensure that the flame is set to medium. Then add the koi fishes in batches and fry on each side for a couple of minutes.

Keep both items separately.

In the same wok, check if you have enough oil. Now add nigella seeds otherwise known as kalonji or Kalo jeera to the oil and allow it to sizzle for a few seconds. Now it’s time to add the spice paste prepared previously and cook for a few minutes. To avoid the spices from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, stir them constantly.

Add the turmeric powder and cook for a few minutes, until the spices are fragrant. When this happens, the spice mix should exude oil. Add water and allow this to come to a boil. Add the slit green chilies, salt

Add the fish, cover, and allow to simmer for ten minutes

Uncover, taste the seasonings and if required, adjust

Put off the flame

Serve hot with rice

2. Koi Macher Jhal 

This is a Bengali-style flavorful fish curry dish that is quite popular. It's traditionally prepared in mustard oil, giving it an authentic taste and feel. Only plain steamed rice goes well with this type of fish curry dish.


  • 2 koi fish, cleaned
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
  • 2 tsp mustard paste / kasundi
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • to taste salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green chilies, slit
  • 1 tsp raw mustard oil
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves


In a clean and dry bowl, take the koi fish pieces. Add mustard paste, tomato paste, turmeric powder, salt, and 1 teaspoon of mustard oil. Mix everything well so that the fish is coated with all the spices. Keep it aside for 30 minutes to an hour.

After 30 minutes to an hour, heat the mustard oil in a pan. Add nigella seeds and fry for a minute. Then add the marinated fish pieces. Fry on medium heat till the fish is cooked through.

Add green chilies, raw mustard oil, and coriander leaves. Cook for another minute, stirring gently.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Grilled Koi Fish Recipe

3. Grilled Koi Fish Recipe

The Grilled Koi Fish recipe is a dish that is loved by all. It is a simple and easy recipe that can be cooked in a matter of minutes. This dish goes well with boiled rice or any type of bread.


  • Koi Fish fillets (2-3, depending on size)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Onion powder to taste
  • Dried oregano to taste
  • Dried thyme to taste
  • Olive oil or cooking spray


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Season both sides of the koi fish fillets with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and thyme.

Drizzle or brush olive oil on each fillet.

Place koi fish fillets on the grill and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until the fish is cooked through.

Serve immediately with your choice of side dish.

4. Japanese Koi Fish Curry 

This is a delicious and easy-to-make Japanese curry that can be made with koi fish. The curry has a very rich and creamy flavor and goes well with rice or noodles.


  • 1 pound koi fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk


Season the koi fish fillets with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the koi fish fillets and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the skillet and cook until softened. Stir in the flour and curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the koi fish back into the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cook for 2 minutes, or until heated through.

Serve over rice or noodles.

5. Japanese Koi Sushi

Koi Sushi is a popular dish in Japan that is made with koi fish. The koi fish is marinated in a sweet and sour sauce and then rolled in sushi rice and seaweed. This dish is served with soy sauce and wasabi.


  • 1 pound koi fish fillets, cut into thin strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 sheet nori seaweed, cut into 4 equal pieces


In a shallow dish, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger, and garlic. Add the koi fish strips and marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.

Thread the koi fish onto skewers and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Place a piece of nori on a plate and top with grilled koi fish, sushi rice, and wasabi.

Serve with soy sauce.

6. Grilled Koi with Ginger and Honey 

The Grilled Koi with Ginger and Honey recipe is a simple and easy dish that can be cooked in a matter of minutes. The koi fish is marinated in a mixture of ginger, honey, and soy sauce and then grilled to perfection. This dish goes well with rice or noodles.


  • 1 pound koi fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and ginger.

Season the koi fish fillets with salt and pepper. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Serve immediately with your choice of side dish.

7. Koi Fish Tacos 

Koi Fish Tacos are a delicious and easy-to-make dish that can be made in a matter of minutes. The koi fish is marinated in a mixture of lime juice, chili powder, and cumin and then grilled to perfection. This dish is served on soft tortillas with shredded cabbage, salsa, and sour cream. This form of fish taco is sure to blow your mind. Read more for these amazing fish taco recipes.


  • 1 pound koi fish fillets or fish meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 8 soft tortillas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup sour cream


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, combine lime juice, chili powder, and cumin. Season the koi fish fillets with salt and pepper and then coat in the lime juice mixture.

Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Place the koi fish on the tortillas and top with shredded cabbage, salsa, and sour cream.


Why You May want to Eat Koi?

You might want to try koi fish if you are visiting a new nation and want to sample the local cuisine as part of the cultural experience. One way to learn about a culture and its history through your taste buds is to try something new. It may be a positive growth experience, as well as an opportunity to learn more about a society and its heritage via your lips.

Why You May Not Want to Eat Koi? 

There are many reasons why you wouldn't want to eat a koi fish. The first reason is that koi are often kept as pets, and it would be cruel to eat something that someone treats as a member of their family. Secondly, koi are quite expensive, and it seems like a waste to kill such a beautiful creature for its meat.

Finally, koi fish are very intelligent. Koi fish is a fascinating exception to the rule that fish aren't usually associated with the word "pet." When fed on a regular basis and properly cared for, koi fish can identify their owners by swimming toward their hands to be stroked.

Koi Fish Taste Good

Does Koi Fish Taste Good? 

This is different for everyone, as we all have different tastes. However, koi fish are known to have rough and oily skin, and their flesh is white and has a mild flavor. Some say that koi fish taste like chicken, while others find them to be bland. Some people say the taste of koi fish is muddy, while others claim it's like water algae. But adding more flavors and spices to the fish can make it more palatable.

Do Japanese Eat Koi?

Yes, the Japanese eat koi. In fact, they are considered a delicacy in that country. The most prized koi fish are those that are the most brightly colored.

How to Cook Koi Fish?

Since koi fish has a mild flavor, they are versatile and can be cooked in many different ways. One way to cook them is by poaching them in a flavorful broth. You can also batter and fry them, or bake them in a marinade. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even turn koi fish into sushi!

Are Koi Fish Dangerous To Humans?

Koi were originally bred for food by Chinese farmers, and it wasn't until the 1800s that they were bred as a pet for their unusual and beautiful colors. Although they aren't poisonous to eat, it's best that the types of koi kept in water gardens or backyard ponds should not be eaten. Some people claim that koi fish are harmful to the liver and kidneys if consumed in large quantities. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

Is Cooking Koi Fish Easy?

Cooking koi is simple, though the tougher skin and texture may add a few minutes to the process. Even so, it's simple to stream or fry koi once you've removed the internal organs. It should cook for around 15 minutes total, depending on how thickly you slice it.

Is Koi Fish Poisonous?

No, there is no proof that koi fish are poisonous to eat. They have been bred for food by Chinese farmers for centuries and are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. However, it is advised not to injure its gallbladder when cooking it. Carp bile, along with being bitter, has been accused of being harmful to the liver and kidneys, owing to its primary component, Cuprinol sulfate, which can harm the liver and kidneys.

Which Country Eats Koi Fish the Most? 

Although it's hard to say for sure, it is believed that the Japanese consume the most koi fish. This is because they have been bred for food for centuries and are a popular delicacy in the country.


Koi fish is a type of carp that have been domesticated for centuries and bred for their coloration. They are a popular pet choice for many reasons: they're beautiful, intelligent, and low-maintenance. Not only that, but if you keep the fish healthy, they can stay with you for a long time. But did you know that koi can also be eaten? That's right - Even though koi fish has great cultural significance, they are considered a delicacy in Asian cuisine, and they can be cooked in many different ways.

They have rough and oily skin, and their flesh is white and mild in flavor. Some people claim that they taste like chicken, while others find them to be unpleasant. They are very simple to cook, though. However, koi is an expensive fish, so it might be best to leave them as pets. With proper care, they are sure to accompany you for a longer period of time.

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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