Snakehead fish are an invasive species found in bodies of water across the United States. The name stems from the large scales on the fish’s head and the cylindrical body shape. This shape makes them look more like a snake than a typical fish.
Four types of snakehead fish exist in the United States. These include:
- Channa argus, also known as northern snakehead
- Chamma maculate, also known as blotched snakehead
- Channa marulius, also known as bullseye snakehead
- Channa micropeltes, also known as giant snakehead
Of the four types, the northern snakehead poses the most danger in aquatic ecosystems. This type of fish, which first appeared in California in 1997, is a predator that has also established a large breeding population. In addition to California, the snakehead fish is most prevalent in these states.
- New York
- North Carolina
The New York Invasive Species Information website advises people not to release any type of snakehead fish back into the water if they catch one. The agency advises people to kill the fish, freeze it, and place it in a double bag instead. They should then report the type of fish they caught to the nearest natural resource agency. However, many people have discovered that snakehead fish are delicious to eat if they can get past their unattractive appearance.
So Are Snakehead Fish Good to Eat?
In Asia, the snakehead has been a dietary mainstay for centuries and is even considered a delicacy in Singapore. According to an AP article, “Many Singaporeans believe the snakehead, when cooked with green apples, softens the skin.”
At Z & Y Restaurant, our “Fresh Fish w/ Flaming Chili Oil” is an extremely popular dish, which features none other than the Snakehead. In fact, the dish in nearly as popular as our famous explosive chicken and other mainstays.
Customers love the combination of the mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns with the texture and juiciness of the fish. Ask most diners who have frequented Z & Y and tried this dish, “Are Snakehead fish good to eat?” Their answers will likely be a resounding YES!
Read Tanya A.‘s review of Z & Y Restaurant on Yelp
Many Ways to Prepare and Serve Snakehead Fish
Snakehead fish meat provides chefs with multiple cooking options since it is firm, flaky, and white. The most popular cooking methods reported so far include frying the fish in a pan, baking it in the oven, or grilling it on a standalone grill outdoors. A meal of snakehead fish goes especially well with chips. In fact, the Washington Post ran a story that explained how this meal combination is now even more popular than traditional fish and chips.
Follow These Tips Before Consuming Any Type of Fish
Catching, preparing, and eating snakehead fish is one of the most useful things people can do to preserve the population of other sea creatures that this fish species eats. However, people need to be careful with their consumption just as they are with any other type of fish. One reason for the caution is that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) can accumulate in the fat layer below the fish’s skin.
Excessive intake of PCBs can cause health complications. To reduce the risk, it is important to remove all skin from the snakehead fish before eating it. Chefs and people preparing snakehead fish at home should also be careful to remove as much fat as possible from the snakehead fish. Experts advise that removing fat around the lateral line and belly flap is especially important.
The best way to eliminate the maximum amount of fat from this fish species is to cook it in the oven on a rack or on a grill. These cooking methods pull fat out of the fish and allow it do drip onto the rack or grill below it. Blackened snakefish seems to be especially popular and delicious.