If you are a health enthusiast who loves eating fish, you might have heard of the Northern Pike. But is Northern Pike good to eat?
The Northern Pike or Pike is a large fish of the mainland Northwest Territories; it gets its name for the same reason. You can find Northern Pike throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including Asia, North America, Europe, Siberia, and the Arctic. It is widely known as Pike in Canada, Europe, and the US. The Mississippi River has plentiful Pike.
Now, if you wonder, “Can you eat northern pike?” You can.
Northern Pike is good to eat and is a game favorite with delicious meat and numerous health benefits.
Keep reading to find out everything good about this fish.
What is the Northern Pike?
The Northern Pike is also known as jackfish, gator, grass pike, snot rocket, water wolf, etc., and belongs to the same family as pickerel, mud minnows, and muskellunge.
It is a large fish up to four feet long with a flat, broad snout. Depending on their habitat, they are usually in shades of green; you might also find a brown Northern Pike in dark rivers and wetlands. Their underside belly varies from yellow to white. The sides are patterned with spots and reddish fins.
Is Northern Pike Good to Eat?
The fish is a delicacy and endangered species because of its popularity in the US. At the same time, some people are skeptical about the safety as the fish has numerous bones, which can be inconvenient.
“The Northern Pike is safe to eat in whatever way you cook it.”
How does Pike Taste?
Northern Pike is one of the most delicious fishes in the northern waters and tastes amazing! Majorly the taste of the cooked fish depends on how you cook it.
Skinning the fish before cooking will help eliminate the muddy taste some people complain about. The white and flaky flesh without the skin is perfect to enjoy; it has a mildly sweet taste.
Northern Pike Nutritional Benefits
Northern Pike has an abundant amount of proteins and vitamins. It contains vitamins B3, B12, and D. It also has selenium that promotes different enzymes and protein production. Furthermore, it has 0.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. The high amount of Vitamin D makes it a favorite in winter when you do not get enough sun exposure. Also, Pike has quite low saturated fatty acids compared to other meat sources.
Some of the health benefits of the Northern Pike include:
Improving Brain Function
Vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the healthy development of your brain cells and play a vital role in protecting the myelin sheath around the nerve cells. These components have been linked to improving brain function and cognitive activity.
Muscle and Bone Health
High levels of vitamin D in Pike are critical to bone health and also regulate the phosphate levels in your body. These minerals help keep your muscles and bones strong and enable proper functioning.
Maintaining Cardiac Health
Omega 3 fatty acids also contribute to a healthy heart by maintaining blood pressure and controlling cholesterol. Pike allows you to enjoy a healthy cardiac system by keeping all these in control.
How to Catch a Northern Pike?
Now that you know that Northern Pike is good to eat, spring is the best time to catch a Northern Pike; they come to shallow waters to lay eggs. Alternatively, boat fishing in deeper waters is suitable for catching them in the summer. Use dead fish or jerk baits to attract these fish through the smell.
How to Prepare Pike for Cooking?
Fish lovers would definitely try cooking pike in the best possible way! Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can prepare this fish for cooking.
Gutting the fish is a critical part of preparing the fish for cooking so you can enjoy the delicious flesh. Insert the top of a sharp knife into the fish under the gills. When you see a small hole in the skin, cut the fish from the head to the tail along the belly for the guts to drop out. Cutting too deep will ruin the meat.
Removing Pike’s skin is recommended as it is slimy and gives a muddy take to the fish. Cut by placing the knife between the meat and the skin. Lift the skin with one hand and remove it from the flesh with a knife.
Even though Northern Pike is good to eat, many people avoid this fish due to surplus bones in the flesh. Additionally, removing the bones takes a little effort, making it even more convenient to avoid eating the fish.
But you can easily remove bones from Pike using this method using a sharp knife:
- Lay the fish on one side, make a medium-deep cut from the head to the belly along the backside, and cut off the head.
- Now cut the fish’s backbone till its tail and remove the filets from the fish.
- You can remove the bones from the rib cage at this point as they are not too deep into the flesh. Insert the knife medium-deep gently into the white cavity on the bottom of the filet and cut through where the ribs end. You will have the ribs removed by now.
- The next step is to remove the fins by making a V-shaped notch with the center point where the fin attaches to the body.
- Once you are done with the extra parts of the fish, it is time to remove the Y-bone. While they are easy to locate, they often lead to the wastage of flesh. Cut straight above the line where you cut to take the ribs out; keep going till you hit the bone at the end of the fish. Now make another lengthwise parallel incision to separate the bone from the flesh. Follow the same for the bottom side of the bone. Lastly, push your knife under the bone till the end of the fish and remove the Y-bone.
- Check thoroughly to ensure that the fish is properly deboned.
How to Cook Northern Pike?
Besides knowing if you can eat Northern Pike, it is critical to know how to cook it properly. Due to its mild and slightly sweet flavor, Pike is good to eat for many flavor profiles. You can make it any way you want, and it will be delicious. It is a popular pick for fish cakes and baked recipes. Many prefer baking it with lemon juice, butter, and a few fresh herbs for a subtle taste. Alternatively, you can choose a garlic, butter, and parsley base for the bake.
Grilled Northern Pike is also a famous delicacy, followed by the Northern Pike Chili made with red pepper, tomatoes, kidney beans, and flavorful spices.
Quick Facts about Northern Pike
- The Northern Pike is a carnivorous fish and eats bass, perch, frogs, and even small Pike.
- Male Pikes do not grow above 18 pounds, but females do.
- These fish have yellow eyes with sharp eyesight.
- Pikes have 300 to 700 piercing teeth that can be dangerous while unhooking them.
- The slime on their bodies allows fast movement of up to 10 mph.
- Lothar Louis in Germany caught a 55lb 1oz Northern Pike in 1986.
Pike is a popular fish in the Northern Hemisphere but people are often skeptical about eating it. It is a delicious fish with a mildly sweet flavor, prepared in various ways; bake, grill, or fry it to your preference. It is rich in vitamins and minerals including omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and Vitamins B and D. Remove the skin before cooking Pike to avoid a slimy and muddy taste. The Northern Pike also has surplus bones; debone the fish properly before eating.
What is the best size northern Pike for eating?
Northern Pike between 22 and 28 inches is the best to eat as they are considered at their very best freshness and taste.
Does Northern Pike contain mercury?
Like other fishes, Pike also contains some amount of mercury. In fact, Pike has higher mercury content as it is a carnivorous fish that relies on other fishes like book trout. Thus, you must not eat Northern Pike in large amounts.
How much mercury is in the Pike?
Skin-on Pike filets contain 0.069 to 0.622 μg/g wet mass of mercury. The mercury concentration in the liver is considerably high at 3.1 μg/g wet wt.
Meet me; I am Paulina Zaniewska, who’s more hooked on providing the best health blog. I’ve always been so determined to compete as a nutritionist, and here I am, done with a Master’s in food technology. My brilliant performance throughout encouraged me to help people.