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anybody had seal meat [moved from Quebec board]

Has anybody tasted seal meat, and what are your impressions--worth the experience. It is
reported to be tender and similar to duck. I am interested in cooked versions only!


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  1. Enjoyed it a few weeks ago (as well as last year) at Au Cinquième Péché: "a trippy starter of *loup de mer*, which is not Atlantic wolffish but a euphemism for Magdalen Island seal. $13 gets you a long rectangular plate with seal four ways: a cromesqui; smoked meat; tataki-style; and a salad of sliced radishes, salicorne and a pepperoni-style sausage. Each was expertly executed and together they give a good idea of the range of this overlooked, savoury -- and totally non-fishy -- dark red meat."

    Interesting that chef Lenglet compares it to duck. It strikes me as closer to game meat, a cross between, say, bison (in terms of flavour, though deeper) and caribou (in terms of texture, though firmer). It's very dark, very tender and very delicious. If it were available in a butcher shop, I'd gladly prepare it at home. Odd that no retailer's bringing this rare, regionally produced, lean, organic meat into town; I expect there'd be a viable niche market for it and it'd certainly take up some of the slack created by the European ban.

    2 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      For the sake of precision and because i'm one of those no fun stickler types, it's loup-marin not loup de mer.


      1. re: SnackHappy

        I stand corrected. Am pretty sure they also called it loup de mer in the resto, however. Or maybe I did. It's all a fuzzy memory made even fuzzier by the fact that the synonyms for Atlantic wolffish (loup atlantique), an actual fish, include both loup-marin and loup de mer.

    2. I was given some seal meat when I lived in Alaska by the mother of a lad whose father was Alaskan Native and therefore entitled to subsistence hunting. It had been frozen when I got it, and I was still pretty young (this was around 20 years ago, maybe a bit less than that) and didn't have the experience with cooking or the resources for research I have now, sooo....

      I stewed it, low and slow, the way I would have done a roast of similar size. Onions, carrots, herbs, salt, pepper. It was -very- fatty, and had a very strong, gamey odor/flavour. It wasn't at all like duck. I didn't really prepare it properly, I know, and so it was much tougher than I'd expected. I'm sure I used the wrong cooking method. It probably would have benefited from being accompanied by a very intensely flavoured fruit sauce of some sort, to help relieve some of the gamey-ness.

      I'd try it again if I got some from someone who was a subsistence hunter, and this time I'd poke around more for better ideas how to prepare it. :)

      1. If it ever goes off the menu at Au 5e Péché, you could always go have it at Les Îles en Ville. I haven't been, but it's been featured in the media lately, and has gotten good reviews.


        1. Back on the Quebec board, thomasein points us to a recent Globe and Mail article -- with video clip -- featuring Au Cinquième Péché's chef Benoit Lenglet.

          1. I don't eat meat any more, so I wouldn't try it now, but I did eat it once as a child, from what I can recall. It was either canned or bottled at the time, and I had a taste from Dad, who would eat everything under the sun. I remember a strong taste to it.

            Despite the bad rap that the east coast Canada seal hunt gets, people do actually eat it there, and not only up north. I think there's a sense that the seal hunt is for fur only, and that it's inhumane. I know plenty of people who love flipper pie, and seal are hunted no differently than any other animal, with the exception that it takes place out on a snowy white ice pan for the world to see.

            Anyway that mini-rant aside, i'm glad to see people discussing this, and not being hypocritical about it in general, even though I don't eat meat myself.

            Also, from what I gather, in order to remove the fat and some of the stronge gamey taste, it's soaked in baking soda or something.

            BTW, if you ever find yourself in Newfoundland, Bidgood's supermarket sells all sorts of game and fish products, including stuff like seal sausages, as well as moose / caribou / game birds etc.

            1. I've eaten seal many times when living in an Alaskan village with lots of subsistence hunting. It's quite the staple of any community potluck along with moose and salmon. I find it to be strongly flavored and the seal I ate often did have a mildly fishy flavor from the diet of the seals where we lived. I've eaten it cooked, raw, and dried, and while it's not my favorite it's not the worst thing I've ever eaten either. Frankly, my favorite way to eat seal was to eat dried foods dipped in the rendered seal oil which has a much milder flavor than the meat.

              1. LOL. Your question reminds me of one of the strangest moments I ever had in my years of volunteering at an elephant seal reserve.

                I had a group of visitors that seemed rather "off" -- especially the guy in full safari garb. At one point, he asked me if I'd ever eaten seal. From the very intense expression on his face, I briefly worried that he was going to whip out a hunting knife and butcher one on the spot! I later found out this group was a day-trip from a home for the mentally ill -- the guy in the safari gear was actually the most functional one of the bunch, with the possible exception of the guy who seemed quite "there" and asked good questions, but was constantly pulling the hem of his t-shirt up to his chin and down.

                Anyway, I can see the comparison between seal meat and duck: neither is marbled -- the fat is all on the outside because it's used for insulation, and it's quite dark red from the extra hemoglobin that allows seals to store oxygen in their bloodstream while diving. People who've had closer contact with dead seals than I have said that seal meat looks more like liver -- dense and dark -- than "regular" animal flesh.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  i think you're right Ruth, it's almost black its so dark.

                2. If seal tastes anything like narwhal or beluga, as described by a Smithsonian writer who got a taste of those in Greenland, then I'm not sure I want to try it...


                  1. I tried seal meat 5years ago on the Magdalen Islands. I actually tried it by accident because I ordered the tourtière de loup de mer, and I was expecting a fish pie. I soon discovered my error when I delved into the pie and I saw the dark meat. I was aware that seal could be sampled on the Magdalen Islands and quickly realized I was actually going to eat seal. I didn't want to be squamish and started eating it. About the flavour, it was gamey, reminded me of liver (if I could recall the taste of liver correctly because I was some sort of a vegetarian back them). It had a nice meaty texture. It wasn't off putting or anything but I didn't finish my plate. But I think would try it again if the opportunity would present itself.

                    1. During a two-month stay in St. John's I discovered that the Hotel Newfoundland there had a buffet every Tursday of typical Newfoundland dishes.

                      Fascinating - I was there every Thursday, and one of the dishes served was seal fllipper pie.

                      I recall not liking it - it was a bit nasty, fishy and greasy.

                      On the ohtr hand, I couilld not get enough fish and brewis. Does anyone know of a restaurant in Toronto that serves it? It;s absolutely mortal - loads of bacon fat and salt - but delicious.

                      1. Wednesday's New York Times has a piece on seal meat in Montreal restos, in particular Au Cinquième Péché. www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/dining/01s...

                        With all due respect to Mrs. Ross, I can't fathom how anyone can claim that the meat has a fishy taste. I tasted it again a couple of weeks ago. No fishiness, even in the near-raw tataki prep. In fact, a couple of seal virgins at our table instantly declared it their favourite game meat.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: carswell

                          Carswell, I was just going to post this. You beat me to it!

                          1. re: carswell

                            I can fathom it. My experience with it was to compare it to feeding a cow nothing but fish and then eating it.


                            1. re: Davwud

                              I agree. I had it years ago as a kid and my dad still quotes me as saying it was like fishy roast beef.

                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                As I write I am in a hotel in a community well above the Arctic Circle in Nunavut Canada. I have had seal many times including when I lived in the area as a kid and on occassion right out of the water. I can speak with some authority on the issue of seal!

                                Seal is (or can be, depending on diet etc I suppose (?), like any meat) is very fishy, very dark and my least favourite meat. I have had many other northern products "de mer" including narwhal and walrus and nothing, absolutely nothing preserves the fishy taste like seal....and not just fishy, but the worst rotten putrid fishy taste imaginable. I have never had seal from the east coast which is likely what most on this thread have had, but for Nunavut seal, yuck! But of course that is one person's opinion...lol

                          2. Can anyone point me towards a source for fresh frozen seal? I understand that there is plenty to go around after the hunts and I'd like to try some. I'd need it to be shipped to the US. Appreciate any info on available suppliers. Thanks.

                            1. Wilma.

                              I haven't had it cooked, only pickled. I was slightly hesitant about eating it but figured what the heck, people in NF eat it all the time.

                              I really quite liked it. The meat that I had was something rather like flank steak. Very fibrous but it was tender from the pickling I suspect. It also had a very distinct beef flavour as well as a distinct fish flavour. It was interesting and different but all in a good way.

                              I suggest you try it. If you don't like it the worst thing that can happen is you don't like it.


                              1. Interesting that the descriptions of seal are similar to my experience of eating whale meat. In the town where I grew up, one restaurant had whale steak on the menu. Sort of like a fihy, gamey steak. They seved it cooked like a good steak. I thought it was quite good.