We just bought a 10 pound grouper head at whole foods to use in making soup--and the gills are so red and beautiful--are they poison?
Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking
Fish gills aren't poisonous, but they aren't anything you'd want to eat. The texture is weird, they don't taste good at all.
It's cartilage, not meat. Fibrous, gelatinous, ick. Throw them into fish stock, they'll be fine. Just strain the broth to avoid fibers.
I've always avoided adding them to fish stock - I was under the impression that it can add a bitter taste.
I generally just throw the whole head into the stock and simmer slowly without problems. But Kmack is right, fish gills (and internal organs) can make for a bitter stock. And the gills on that 10-pounder are probably robust enough to be a problem.
jondotli, if you're going to continue shopping for magnificent fish heads, you should check out the traditional dish from Singapore--fish head curry. It's delicious.
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Well played. You deserve a cookie.
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