American Oceans

Can You Eat Sunfish and How Does it Taste?

a massive ocean sunfish mola mola

The ocean sunfish, also known as Mola mola, is a unique and intriguing creature that has caught the attention of many due to its peculiar appearance and curious behavior. As one of the heaviest known bony fishes in the world, some individuals might wonder if this aquatic giant can also be considered a viable source of food.

Indeed, Mola mola sunfish can be consumed, but it is not considered a popular or widely sought-after dish. In some regions, the flesh of the sunfish has been known to be prepared as a delicacy, although not commonly encountered on restaurant menus or in local markets. Consuming the sunfish should be done with caution, as the levels of toxins in their bodies can vary, posing potential health risks to humans.

Despite these considerations, interest in the culinary potential of the Mola mola sunfish prevails, especially among those intrigued by uncommon seafood experiences. However, the primary focus of research and public curiosity remains centered on the biology, ecology, and conservation of this fascinating marine species.

Edibility and Safety Concerns

a mola mola swimming with small reef fish

The Mola Mola, or Ocean Sunfish, is not a common fish in culinary circles. However, it has been consumed in some regions, particularly in the Mediterranean. Despite its edibility, there have been concerns about food safety specifically related to food poisoning in some cases1. Another significant concern for those considering consuming Mola Mola is the potential for high levels of mercury. Mercury contamination is a common issue in large marine animals, especially fish, and can pose a threat to human health when consumed in high quantities.

Taste and Cooking Methods

As for the taste of Mola Mola, it is believed to have a distinctive nutty flavor with a unique texture. The meat of this fish is described as white, firm, and somewhat gelatinous. While there are no definitive guidelines on how to cook Mola Mola, it is essential to ensure that it is prepared with care to avoid any potential safety hazards.

Given the uncommon nature of Mola Mola in the culinary world, there are limited recipe options available. However, it is most commonly found featured in international cuisine dishes, particularly in Taiwan and Japan. In these regions, the sunfish is often prepared as a delicacy, using traditional cooking methods that focus on enhancing the natural flavors of the sunfish’s meat.

Sunfish in International Cuisine

In Taiwan, Mola Mola is consumed as a rare delicacy, and the fish are caught primarily by local fishermen when in season. Similarly, Mola Mola is also consumed in Japan, where it is known as “Manbou”. Japanese cuisine features Mola Mola in dishes such as sashimi, where the fish is thinly sliced and served with garnishes like soy sauce and wasabi, allowing its distinctive flavor to be enjoyed.

Despite the regional interest in Mola Mola as an ingredient, it is essential to exercise caution when consuming this unique fish due to potential health hazards, including mercury and food poisoning risks. Therefore, Mola Mola should be considered a delicacy to be enjoyed infrequently and wisely.


  1. Food poisoning caused by sunfish Masturus lanceolatus 

Add comment