You can eat anything you wish.
However, whether you can eat it safely or not is the real question.
For example, you can eat freshwater fish, but finding them in water clean enough to consider eating them raw is not advised.
Freshwater fish from clear, clean, unpolluted water would be safe to eat.
Unfortunately, such waters hardly exist, ever.
If it were a matter of life and death and all you have, then give it a go.
Freshwater fish tend to have more parasites, toxins, and bacterial content than their ocean-bound counterparts.
This is partly because they are confined to water that, although it moves, doesn’t flow like ocean water.
If you want to know if you can eat freshwater fish raw, read on!
Can you eat freshwater fish raw?
You can eat raw freshwater fish, but it is not suggested for health reasons. There are very few freshwater bodies of water worldwide unpolluted by man. Even those not polluted may not be devoid of parasites and bacteria. Even toxins can be deposited in the highest lakes from pollutants in the air. Eating raw fish of any kind is risky, but if you are going to eat it, stick to the variety that comes from the ocean. Unless, of course, it’s an emergency!
Is freshwater fish safe to eat raw?
Some will argue that all fish have parasites from the ocean, a river, or a lake. That is true; however, freshwater fish tend to have more of them because, unlike ocean fish, they are confined.
The water freshwater fish are in may also carry more bacteria due to a lack of water flow and runoff from surrounding land.
Fish can carry tapeworms, fluke worms, and other parasites, as well as bacteria that can cause you harm.
Even fish from the clearest mountain streams can have parasites, although bacteria is less likely.
This is because mountain streams tend to be so cold, even in the summer, that bacteria would have a hard time living in them.
However, some fungi live in cold water, as well as parasites. So, if you do catch a wild mountain trout, cook it first because, unless you have the ingredients for ceviche, fire-roasted mountain trout is a better option.
Freezing fish can kill parasites!
Sushi-grade fish in the United States must be frozen before it is used to kill any parasites that might be present.
The rule is to freeze the fish to a temperature of minus four degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of seven days.
The extreme cold kills parasites and is the standard procedure for sushi before being served in the U.S.
There is little written about eating freshwater fish raw, except not to. However, freezing it before consuming it raw may kill the parasites, as it does in sushi-grade tuna and salmon.
To be safe, however, cooking any freshwater fish you catch is the best route to take. There are many recipes for freshwater fish that don’t require it to be dropped in grease and fried to a crisp.
Most freshwater fish is served fried, broiled, or grilled; however, I’ve never seen it served raw.
Freshwater fish isn’t as fatty as fish from the ocean. Therefore, it doesn’t have the mouthfeel of salmon or tuna, even when they are both fried.
Freshwater fish also lacks the strong flavor of seafood, which is part of the appeal of sushi and sashimi.
Tuna and salmon are a bit strong, as fish goes. However, they are full-flavored, and the fat content offers a different texture than freshwater fish.
Find a location with safe fish
Even though you should cook freshwater fish before you eat it, the source for it should be the best you can find.
Most states’ fish and wildlife departments track fish in the country’s waterways and test them for contaminants.
The fish from many lakes and streams should not be eaten. Even if you freeze them for a year and smoke them for a month, they may not be safe.
They are too contaminated to eat. So, if you hunt for safe freshwater fish, check with local sources to find where they are in your area.
You can also find maps of coastal areas that indicate where fish are unsafe to eat. The pollution from our coasts and effluent from rivers and streams pollute our rivers, bays, and oceans.
In Florida, red tide makes fish that survive inedible for months at a time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Eat Freshwater Fish Raw
Can I eat freshwater fish raw that comes from mountain streams?
If you want to try raw freshwater fish, that would be the best source.
Is freshwater fish ever served raw in restaurants?
Absolutely not. If you get freshwater fish in a restaurant, it will be fried, sautéed, grilled, or broiled.
Conclusion About Can You Eat Freshwater Fish Raw
Even if you eat raw freshwater fish from the cleanest stream or lake you can find, there is still a risk of having parasites that can be transferred to you if you consume a fish with them in it.
The problem with parasites is they often do a great deal of damage to the body before they are discovered.
Some parasites in fish can be deadly to humans.
If you have a craving for sushi, it would be best to make a trip to a local restaurant and have the sushi chef fix you up.
However, if you find yourself in the woods, are low on food, and have trout to be caught, you should still take time to build a fire and cook your fish before you eat it.