How to cook a whale

I have received a request from someone who wants to know how to cook whale. The recipes are presented here for the curiosity value, as whale is only available in a few countries. I haven't tasted whale since I was in my teens, and I don't expect many of my readers will ever get the chance to try it. The recipes are therefore untested by me. Beef or a good, tender piece of horse-steak can be substituted for whale, in which case you can leave out the beating.

Recipe nr 1:
3/4 to 1 kilo whale meat (or beef/horse)
50 g butter, tallow or lard
2-3 onions
Salt and pepper
Laurel leaf (optional)
600-700 ml water
Sauce colouring (caramel)
50 g flour
200 ml milk

Clean the meat: some say it's enough to slice off about a centimetre off each side of the piece, others recommend soaking in milk overnight. This is only to ensure there will be no oily taste to the meat, but if it has been properly handled in the first place, it will not taste oily. Cut into steaks and beat with a meat mallet.
Slice the onions. Heat the cooking fat in a frying pan, brown the meat on all sides and put in a cooking pot, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown the onions in a frying pan and add half to the pot with the meat, along with the laurel leaf, if using. Set half the onions aside. Pour water into the frying pan and deglaze. Pour over the meat and cook for 15 to 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. Arrange the steaks on a serving dish and arrange the browned onions that were set aside on top.
Make a paste with the milk and flour and use it to thicken the cooking liquid left in the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with cooked potatoes and vegetables arranged around the meat and sprinkle parsley or cress over the dish. Serve gravy on the side.

Recipe no 2:
3/4 kg whale meat, beef or horse
250 g onions
75 g margarine or butter
2 tbs tomato purée
200 ml water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika

Melt the margarine in a frying pan, slice the onion and brown it. Remove from pan and set aside. Cut the meat into slices, brown in the pan and put in a cooking pot or stew pan with the onions. Boil the water, stir in the tomato purée, salt and paprika and pour over the meat. Cook slowly for 14 to 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Serve with potatoes.

Recipe no 3:
3/4 kilo whale, beef or horse
50 g margarine
3-4 onions
2-3 tbs water
Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Cut the meat into very thin slices (1/2 cm thick or so). Brown quickly in a dry pan (no oil). Remove meat and melt the margarine and brown the sliced onions in it. Remove from the pan, add the water and cook the meat slices in the water for 2-3 minutes. Flavour with salt and spices. Serve with potatoes and a salad.

Sour pickled whale blubber – súr hvalrengi
Chunks of whale blubber are washed under cold running water and cooked until firm, then removed from the cooking liquid, cooled and kept in cold water for 1-2 days, cut into smaller pieces and dropped into strong whey. Ready for eating in 4-6 weeks.


Anonymous said…
Well,i've eaten whale many times in many is my fave so far.just slice like small steaks and very thinly..then cook.
Anonymous said…
I am Japanese, whale eater. In my opinion, Sashimi of tail meat is great!! serve with grated ginger of garlic. also, cook like roast beef (in rare) is recommended.
I hope Iceland could export whale meat to Japan after start whaling on May.
Anonymous said…
I tried whale sashimi once. I felt as if I was committing cannibalism. It was disgusting. I'd rather eat dog.
Bibliophile said…
Anon no. 2, it's certainly an acquired taste, and if you have sympathy with whales it would certainly make you feel guilty. Which makes me wonder why you tried it in the first place?
Irene said…
Hello! We just prepared recipe #1 with Minke whale in Norway. It turned out just fine, although the whale meat was a little tough. Perhaps that's just how whale meat is.

In any case, thanks for the recipes! Bon appetit!!

~Irene and Brandon
Bibliophile said…
You're welcome, Irene.
Samúel - Iceland said…
When preparing whale meat, the most important thing is not to cook it too long. Its best when raw inside, not much more than 1 min each side on a hot pan for 1,5cm thick slices.

Feeling bad for eating whale meat, thats absurd, you should reduce your ´free willy´ watching.

Perhaps you like to watch fish in a aquarium why isnt that cannibalism to eat them?

Whale meat is excellent substitute for other red meat, because its rich in omega 3 and with almost no fat, probably the healthiest red meat there is.
Anonymous said…
we Alaskan Eskimos dry whale meat and eat it with its rendered oil!! its the best!
Bibliophile said…
Anon, I'll definitely try to get a taste of that if I ever visit Alaska.
Lou Lou in Alaska said…
I was lucky enough to have fresh whale meat this past week...raw, boiled, and now I am pickling some. I am also rendering the oil for dipping. Tender like butter fresh catch...excellent.
Anonymous said…
We just received some whale meat and will make a stew with it. We are taking your directions and a stew recipe that we think will work. Should be delicious! Cheers from Point Hope, Alaska.
Anonymous said…
The stew turned out GREAT! Who knew bowhead whale would taste so good.
Karlos said…
I'm an Australian non-whale eater. Enjoy the tasty meat from an intelligent marine mammal that died slowly and in agony after having it's innards brutally shredded by a grenade tipped harpoon. Yum, yum. If you tried to slaughter cows that way you'd be locked up, and the fact that the Japanese do this in Australian Antarctic Territorial Waters, in a declared Sanctuary, in breach of the IWC Moratorium, is disgusting. See you in the International Court of Justice Japan, and in the meantime, have fun dealing with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Get out of our waters you lying douche's and stop pretending your whales hunts are anything but illegal commercial whaling. You must think the world is stupid.
Bibliophile said…
Thank you for expressing your opinion, Karlos.
AussieAlex said…
Karlos, this says Icelandic cooking recipes at the top. Nothing to do with Japan at all. Your idiocy makes me embarrassed to be an Australian.

Icelandic whaling techniques are far more humane and moreover, sustainable. Do your research or go visit Reykjavik and talk to the locals. Maybe you'll learn something.
chris said…
Go massacre some soy beans Karlos. They aren't in Australian waters, there is no INTERNATIONAL sanctuary and that court has no jurisdiction.
Bibliophile said…
I will not approve any further comments on this post.
Anonymous said…
I looked up this thread after reading Chris Ould's "The Killing Bay," which describes current whaling practices in the Faroe Islands. I previously had been unaware that whaling was still done anywhere and that people still eat whale meat. I like how you handled your critical commenters. I guess it's unlikely I will ever get pickled whale blubber in the US but it would be interesting to try.
Anonymous said…
I am just reading The Killing Bay by Chris zouks. I was curious about how you would cook Whale meat and Blubber. I don’t think I will try it. Cot available in The UK anyway .

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