Are organs of fish edible? For example, I was wondering about the heart, liver, and all the other unidentified organs or glands inside mackerel, before deciding to discard or keep them.

Are different organs treated differently? (I can't identify most of the organs.)


6 Answers 6


Most fish are pretty similar to other animals in this regard. All organs are edible (with well known exceptions such as pufferfish liver), but some are unappetising at least unless cleaned and prepared properly (the gall bladder, and the digestive organs).

Since fish tend to be small, most of the tastier organs aren’t worth rooting around for and individually handling. The liver, the roe, and the swim bladders of large fish are the only exceptions you’re likely to find (the latter dried and boiled for isinglass). But whole mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and other fish were and are used whole to make fermented fish sauce, so it’s clearly not a question of poisoning.


I have eaten cod livers (from a can), so in general yes some fish organs are definitely eadible.


Fish organs are usually edible, but often very unpalatable.

The livers of various fish have long been eaten, generally for nutritional reasons, although some people like the taste. The roe sacs are often eaten because diners think they taste good. Other fish innards, such as the intestine, are used in a variety of fermented preparations, both with and without the rest of the fish.


While it is usual to remove the organs before eating in many countries, there are many else where it belongs to the fish and is always eaten.

Some organs like the eggs from female fish might even be considered a delicacy in those countries, where people normally don't eat the organs. A good recipe is to fry them together with onions, vinegar and some salt.

All organs are edible (from commonly consumed fishes, there are fishes that have highly toxic organs! The liver of pufferfish isn't edible), just like from most animals. It's rather a question of taste. With small fishes, mostly the organs aren't removed at all because it would be too much work. Anchovies are an example.

You should consider, that fish organs have the highest amount of environmental pollution, microplastics e.g. and heavy metal accumulation! It is highly recomendable to not eat the organs at all! The least heavy metal accumulation happens in the muscles. Other tissues have more, like organs, skin, lungs, brain etc. Nevertheless, the organs are at the same time those parts with the highest nutritional value. Like FuzzyChef said, organs are also used for preparing fermented food.

Before I aware of the pollution, I ate all organs (apart from the lungs) from sardines, mackerel, horse mackerel, and anchovy. They taste totally different than anything else. Not bad not really good but interesting. Deep frying the bones from fish is extremely delicious and supplies high amounts of potassium and calcium. The bones get crisp and you can easily eat them. Just keep the pollution in mind and hold the balance.


There is a rich variety of salted fish innard dishes in Korean cuisine under the umbrella term of jeotgal, meaning "salted seafood". There are many preparations for different parts of the fish, or just all the innards together. Mackerel innards specifically are known as godeungeo-naejang-jeot. I am not finding any recipes in English, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are recipes in Korean if you don't mind a bit of detective work.


We call this offal and you can find it served in some restaurants. It's also in a lot of old cooking books which tend to not shy away from using such parts, and they lend well to a good stew.

So I would say yes but if you're looking at some of them they don't, especially farmed fish, look too pretty.

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