How much can a piranha eat
There's piranha for lunch
There are many legends about piranhas. Even the former US President Theodore Roosevelt has already devoted himself to these fish and wrote: “They tear up and devour alive every injured person and animal." Of course, we weren't there on his voyage of discovery through the Brazilian rainforest, but if you talk to biologists about piranhas (or just watch this informative WDR documentary about the fish), there is a lot to suggest that Mr. Roosevelt was on mind-expanding drugs.
So in the end the piranha is just a fish. And what is the best thing to do with fish? Eat properly.
Two freshly killed piranhas in the Andina.
So I unceremoniously swing myself into a chic London restaurant with Peruvian cuisine. Why Peruvian? Quite simply because Peru is a country where guinea pigs and arapaima have been on the menu for centuries. In such a cabinet of curiosities, of course, piranha should not be missing. Chef Martin Morales welcomes me to the Andina and will help me prepare two piranha specimens. But first of all, the boys have to be killed first.
The author (center) and chef Martin Morales (right).
"There is no question of overfishing with piranhas, there are more than enough of them," Morales explains to me as he pulls two large bags out of a kitchen cabinet. "In Peru, it is a completely sustainable fish." In each of the bags there is a transparent plastic box with a piranha in it. They're smaller than I would have thought and they don't look particularly terrifying — more like an oversized, silver-lacquered goldfish.
"Many of my guests find it difficult to try something new," Morales tells me. "Some animals are misrepresented in the media. In Peru, we eat pretty much everything. Some animals are bred, others wild. Most important is anyway that they are used sustainably by the communities. "
The pearly whites are not to be joked with.
"The reason why they are not actually on the menu here is that we rely on fish from the region and on sustainability," he tells me, killing the first fish. "To have piranhas delivered to London is a very costly proposition and if the fish were to be offered regularly it would amount to a lot of pollution. But sometimes we just get the adventurer through. " Morales doesn't want to tell me where he got the fish from. I ask him at least four times, but unfortunately I can't do more than a friendly smile. But I've done my homework and therefore know that such extra wishes (for friends of Extrasausages continue here) can quickly cost hundreds of euros. Either way, I would be served the most expensive fish dish of my life today.
Cooking piranhas is not that easy.
The fish are tiny and there isn't much meat on them. That's why a ceviche is not the best choice. No problem, says Morales, so we just make an escabeche out of it - we have to turn the piranhas in flour and salt, then fry them and serve with a sauce of red onions, chilli peppers and tomatoes.
But first we have to scale and gutt the fish. While I'm digging through the innards of the little highwayman and pulling out one slimy organ after the next, I actually cut myself on one of his razor-sharp teeth. It starts to bleed immediately. So this was it, my first fight with a piranha. And I survived him!
Piranhas in the pan.
While I was tending to the wound, I asked Morales if it was normal in Peru to hunt your food yourself. "We are talking about a very poor country," he replies gravely. "That is why we are working with a welfare organization that is active in three different locations in Peru. The local children live in poor conditions Spend three hours cobbled together shoes made from old car tires and march to the nearest supermarket. In such an environment, it is only natural that people are still real hunters and gatherers and eat pretty much everything they can get their hands on, including, for example Piranhas. "
The fish is served with a soft-boiled egg and plantain chips.
After the fish has been fried in hot vegetable oil, Martin places it on a wooden bowl with olives, a soft-boiled egg and plantain chips. Suddenly, the two Wannabe killers look pretty tame. If it weren't for my cut on my finger ...
And how does piranha taste now? Well, after I manage to scrape some meat off the bone, I'd say a bit like snot tongue.
Probably the most expensive fish & chips of my life.
Do I feel bad after eating a piranha? No. Do I feel bad after having eaten a piranha, knowing full well that it came from a distant part of the world and tons of kerosene had to be thrown into the air to be able to prepare it here in London? Absolutely. On the other hand, I've already eaten so many apples from New Zealand in my life that the one fish from Peru probably doesn't make the cabbage any more fat either (I've long since turned off the apple, don't worry). But was it all worth it in terms of taste? Hard to say.
And one more thing: In addition to its splatter movie-esque bloodthirstiness, the piranha is often said to have an aphrodisiac effect when consumed. Oh well. My hands smell so much of fish that one or the other slippery thought cannot be avoided.
Here is the recipe:Piranha escabeche
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