The Seal Meat Experience

Although many of you might be a little disheartened in the upcoming tasting choice, I for one feel that introducing myself to as many different foods, flavors, and textures allows me to appreciate the art of cooking, the passions for food and the appreciation of where our sustenance comes from.

An opportunity recently came up for me and a some fellow Foodists to try some seal meat, and after watching Anthony Bourdain experience his first seal we were all very interested in the textures and tastes that made these people so excited about their meal. I should state that this meat was not controversial baby seal, but sourced through a local importer via government-sanctioned herd culling in Northern Quebec where seal populations have spiked and are depleting fish stocks.

BBQ Champion Ron Shewchuk was our chef for the experience and served us some raw seal steaks, slicing against the grain to allow us to dive into the raw flesh. It was surprising how red the richness of the colour was, and how soft and smooth the meat was to the touch. It smelled as if rich with iron with a hint of the ocean. Apparently seal meat is very rich in protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin B-12. The meat is leaner since seals carry all of their fat directly beneath their skin, and it is free of hormones typically used in farming to increase mass or growth.

Tasting the meat, the texture on the tongue was just the same. Silky smooth and seemed quite gamey (almost like an organ meat) yet had a subtle flavoring familiar of the ocean. We pondered the taste and were surprised at how little the fishy flavor was present in the meat. The irony aftertaste proved to be a bit overpowering with Mark Busse commenting that it was “like a bloody nose” but commented that he “felt manly somehow about eating it, like an Inuit hunter.”

For the second round Ron added a pinch of sea salt to the meat. This punched out the fishy flavor and made it all the more evident that this was seal meat. Next, he added some truffle oil along with the salt which cut through the fish flavor and added to the soft texture on the palate and allowed the richness of the seal flavoring to come forth.

Ron then slightly seared the seal meat, giving it just a bit of heat on each side while leaving the inside raw. This began to give the meat a very familiar flavor, reminiscent of caribou or venison. A gamey irony flavor that completely disengaged the senses from associating this animal meat with the sea that it came from.

This was an incredible experience and one that I will not soon forget. Eating the meat in its purest raw form almost made me feel closer to that of a hunter, or the people that rely on seal meat for daily sustenance, fuel and warmth for their bodies in very cold climates.

In the future I don’t know if I would rush out and purchase seal like I would beef, but it would be interesting to try some of the authentic recipes and various ways of preparing seal.

What are your thoughts around this controversial meat? Would you try seal if you had the opportunity?


32 Responses to “The Seal Meat Experience”

  1. Posted on January 3rd, 2012

    I wonder what smoked or properly BBQ’d seal would taste like?

  2. Posted on January 4th, 2012

    How about seal jerky!

  3. Posted on January 5th, 2012

    I tried seal back in the ’70s, as a young boy visiting family in NFLD. I remember it being something fairly common, but a significant meal (such as a formal Sunday dinner). Ours was roasted, and the texture was a little like corned beef. What stands out in my memory is that it was served with flippers still attached; like how a roast chicken still has its legs. I thought the taste was okay, but a little too gamey, and haven’t had the opportunity to try it since.

  4. Posted on January 5th, 2012

    I’d eat the shit out of a seal! No… Wait a minute. That didn’t sound right. Why would it be ok to eat a cow or a pig or a lobster but not a seal? Because they are ugly? We shouldn’t eat cute things? Or because they are stupid? We shouldn’t eat smart things? Are Seals smarter than pigs? How about Octopus? They are smarter than we are, Fortunately they aren’t smart enough to figure out how to farm us but that is their own problem. Let them eat cake.
    I should really try to figure out just exactly what it is that I am trying to say here but I am hungry now and I have some leftover lamb chops calling my name from the fridge.

  5. Posted on January 8th, 2012

    Cold smoked seal meat would most likely be pretty good. Or made into black pudding style sausage using other parts of the seal and fried up on a nice hot cast iron pan. Smoked sausage with wild blueberries and juniper would be super!

    Also soaking the in milk or buttermilk would extract some of the strong taste much like with liver because of the iron looses that “bloody nose” metallic taste you are speaking of.

    At least you know if this was to become trendy that chefs would only purchase from sustainable resources and the infinite number of ways to prepare it would be interesting. Respect the meat! Regardless of where it comes from. Mind you I’ve served everything from rattlesnake croquettes to muscox and am unsure if I would ever had served seal meat.

    Thanks for this story I enjoyed it.

  6. Posted on January 9th, 2012

    Nice post, Tyler and great comments. It was truly an unforgettable experience, and I look forward to eating seal meat again. It is indeed a sustainable, humanely produced food source, although the sealing industry is condemned by what the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador calls “radical and unethical anti-harvesting organizations.” Just recently, after hearing that Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are considering banning seal products, Newfoundland and Labrador issued this news release, which will be of interest to everyone reading Tyler’s post:

  7. Posted on January 24th, 2012

    Roughly four years ago an acquaintance brought back some seal meat jerky and I tried some. It was delicious; dense, lean, meaty and fishy all at the same time. The taste reminded me of cod liver oil. Ever since then I get a craving for it now and then. I would seriously pay money to get more seal jerky. I’ve tried googling, but nothing turns up. :(

  8. Posted on June 2nd, 2012

    Seal meat is high in mercury. Look it up. Bon appetite.

  9. Posted on November 23rd, 2012

    YOU ARE FUCKING MONSTERS. How the hell can you call slowly crushing an animal’s skull humane? You are disgusting. You don’t need to eat seal meat. No one does. You just want to do inflammatory shit and think you’re edgy epicures for doing so, which is pathetic. I’d like to take a hakepik to your skulls so you know what you’re choosing to put those animals through!

  10. Posted on December 23rd, 2012

    If you click that link you inhumane people can see how you get your shitty seal meat.

  11. Posted on December 26th, 2012

    Stan you are sadly missinformed. It has been illegal to kill white coats since the 80s. The site you posted the link to is designed by animal rights groups to make you react but very little of the informatiion here is fact. That photo has been very clearly faked. Keep in mind that when the fish stocks collapsed the seal population was around 5 million. Current numbers are estimated at near 10 million at the moment. From an ecological standpoint, the seal population must be controlled. The truth of the hunt is that these animals are killed in a far MORE humane way than the majority of the farm animals sold to be eaten. Anything NOT used by the hunter is left for the scavengers who depend on the hunt as much as those participating in it. Polar bears especially need the extras right before their summer starvation period starts if they are to survive. The animals are killed quite quickly there is no ‘slow crushing’ they are dead in seconds. that study they refference – have you actually read it? You are leading with your heart in this matter and not taking the time to learn all the facts.

  12. Posted on December 31st, 2012

    If you want to explore seal meat, phone that guy: Rejean Vigneau. He owns Boucherie Côte-à-Côte in Magdalen Islands and offers seal sausages, pâtés, terrines, burgers, jerky… (418.986.3322).

  13. Posted on January 8th, 2013

    If you are in Montreal we sell Seal meat seal sausages, pâtés, terrines, burgers,and more

  14. Posted on March 11th, 2013

    Mimi, glad to see someone who is actually informed on the issue instead of reaching knee-jerk conclusions. I would also like to point out that seal meat HAS NOT tested high in mercury counts, although the liver certainly qualifies. It is not recommended for the pregnant or nursing to consume seal liver & for others to only consume it in moderation.

  15. Posted on March 11th, 2013

    I would also like to point out that seal blubber, routinely consumed by the Inuits, is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which are essential for people living in the far North due to the lack of Sunlight. A lack of vitamin D can cause a condition known as rickets which causes bone loss & frequent fracture. The consumption of blubber from whales & seals was thus a requirement of a health diet for those living in that area.

  16. Posted on April 9th, 2013

    that’s disgusting and you’re disgusting for eating a seal.

    Just because something is high in Protein, etc. doesn’t justify eating it! Otherwise, why don’t you cook your mom since you’re so into introducing yourself to as many different foods, flavors, and textures..I bet it will allow you to appreciate the art of cooking, the passions for food and the appreciation of where our sustenance comes from.


  17. Posted on April 26th, 2013

    I am excited to try and I see there is someone from Montreal selling. I am positively delighted that reading this was so fruitful. I am happy.

    For those who dislike the idea of people eating seal meat (for how they are harvested or otherwise), unless you eat no animals or fish, recognize yourself as a hypocrite swallow your pride and be prepared to give up consuming all animals and fish to be ideologically consistent.

    It’s best to be the best you can. It is not best to think that you are somehow better by not eating seals.

  18. Posted on April 28th, 2013

    Well I eat seal meat cooked or dry meat. Thise animals came from the nature itself before they shooted. Why other people critisize that? other animals lived thier all life in captivity like pigs chickens cows. Pigs chickens cows programmed to be born and to die without seeing thier true nature. Smartest seals have chance to live hole life without shooted but pigs cows and chickens have no chance ONE HUNDRED PROCENT.

  19. Posted on July 22nd, 2013

    Very good post. I absolutely love this site. Continue the good work!

  20. Posted on October 20th, 2013

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Seal tastes much like Bald Eagle until you cook it and then it is more like Spotted Owl.
    We are discussing the taste and flavor of an animal – not the ethical issues of cosmetics or the humanist issues of gold and diamonds. Consider how YOU can help before diagnosing others. Plus, have a little adventure once in a while. It will expand your horizons.

  21. Posted on December 2nd, 2013

    Wow, that’s a great way to prepare it! I’ve only had flipper myself, but it’s a real treat. Flipper kind of reminded me of calves liver, but a much stronger flavour. Also, VERY rich – a whole flipper is enough food for two people! :)

    In my view, hunted meat in general, and seal in particular, is more humane than most of the commercially raised meats we eat in the west. Wild animals are not stuffed in to tiny pens and made to sit in their own waste, and the kill methods used in some abattoirs leaves much to be desired.

    In addition, many stories that are being told about the seal hunt have not been true for many years – babies and young seals are not killed, and the kill methods are swift and are as painless as possible. Furthermore, seals are predators (depsite all the PETA pictures of “cute” seals), and they are furthering the damage human beings did to fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland. If the seal population is not kept in check, those fish stocks will be completely decimated.

  22. Posted on December 24th, 2013

    I’m eating smoked seal jerky right now. Bought it at a Christmas bazaar here in Ketchikan, AK. Very tasty!

  23. Posted on January 28th, 2014

    Raw seal meat is necessary for survival up north – seals have a high tolerance for cold and so do the folks that eat it. One Arctic explorer said it gave him a feeling of heat in his stomach.. I personally take flavored cod liver oil in the winter to help me better tolerate the cold. One night when it was 12 degrees F I changed a flat tire with no gloves and had no problem at all with freezing hands.

  24. Posted on May 2nd, 2014

    Seal meat is to me a special time of the year. I just recently got back from a hunt. i hunt traditionally as my Inuit ancestors did. Its a food fishery. i got 3 seals. seal liver fried and bake ribs and flipper, aint gettin no better

  25. Posted on October 14th, 2014

    Looks yummy, can’t wait to try some!

  26. Posted on December 22nd, 2014

    It’s so sad that Katherine and BabyBee are the one’s who sound like MONSTERS with such hatred. Gee! As a vegetarian, I’m so glad I don’t think or sound messed up.

  27. Posted on March 9th, 2015

    I prefer my seal with live baby puppy’s ground in to the meat you sick bastards!
    Hey there’s to many Asians in California let’s eat there babies mixed in with the seal meat.

    Sustenance this..F.U. You wacko sealeater!!!

  28. Posted on March 15th, 2015

    Years ago I ate both whale and dolphin while stationed in Japan. Neither one of these meats was controversial back then and they were both delicious. I have always wanted to try seal meat but never had the opportunity.

  29. Posted on April 29th, 2015

    First of all how is it not human??? People have hunted for thousands of yrs to survived. Now if someone is just killing for fun I understand but as long as your using as much of the animal you possibly can what’s the problem. It’s called “The food chain”. nobody could tell me if they and their family was starving and the only thing to eat was seal they wouldnt kill it.

  30. Posted on August 1st, 2015

    I am anemic. I lived in the arctic for 10 years at which time I didn’t have any anemia issues. Came back to central canada and anemic again. The only thing that boosts my iron and maintains it is a sliver of seal liver every 4 to 6 months. Taste is bitter but add mustard pickles to it and surprisingly I can get it down.

  31. Posted on August 23rd, 2015

    If you find seal meat a bit gamey..try out some of the NL recipes! I have use apple juice, others have used other things. Seal is no different then bear or moose or deer. Just need to find a recipe that suits you!

  32. Posted on March 28th, 2022

    @Charles eudy Don’t be a racist asshole, cunt.
    People who disgusted by this while also eating meat is a fucking hypocrite.s I bet @Katherine, @Stan and @BabyBee are one of them.

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