Can You Eat Sunfish?

By David Chavez / December 30, 2018

Have you ever caught sunfish? Before you think about eating it, it’s important you learn what it looks like and where it comes from.

Can you eat sunfish? Because it’s entirely different from any other kind of fish, you have to know exactly how to prepare it. Continue reading to learn all about this fish as well as how you can cook it into a meal.

Sunfish – What Exactly Is It?

Sunfish, otherwise known as mola, is a quite larger fisher than most others in the ocean. It’s mostly found along the tropical parts of the earth. It’s rather thick and can grow to be as heavy as a thousand kilograms.

Unfortunately, sunfish is an endangered species and is soon to be extinct if the world doesn’t react quickly. It’s one of a kind which is why it’s considered to be a delicacy. It’s safe to eat, but you might have to go far to find it.

Because it’s in such danger, countries of the European Union banned the consumption and sale of the fish. However, you can enjoy a meal of sunfish in some regions of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan where the fish is prepared by world-class chefs in luxury restaurants.

Catching it isn’t too hard, but it’s unlike catching any other fish.

Characteristics

As we said, this is unique fish that’s unlike most others. However, if you don’t know what it looks like and what are its features, you’ll easily mistake it for another species. Here are a few unique features of mola that can help you identify it:

  • This fish is also known as mola because its scientific name is Mola Mola. When someone talks about mola, know that it’s sunfish they’re talking about.
  •  It’s also quite tall at almost five feet in height. It has ventral and dorsal fins with the distance between fins being approximately eight feet.
  •  Female can produce more eggs than any other vertebrate on earth. The number goes up to three hundred million eggs.
  •  It eats mostly jellyfish since it what helps maintain its body which is also why it grows as big.

Sunfish Fishing Tips

The most important thing when it comes to catching sunfish is having the right equipment. You won’t be able to catch it with just about any gear.

The best is to use a special hook such as a long shank wire type. Make sure to flatten the barb because that will allow you to remove it easier. Surgical forceps are a great tool to remove the hook from the mouth of your fish.

Sunfish bites small lures such as jigs or others designed for trout. Natural baits work much better so opt for crickets and worms if you can.

Fly fishing is a great way to bed sunfish. It bites flies, streamers, nymphs, floating and sinking spiders, etc.

How To Fillet Panfish?

The first thing is to make sure the fish isn’t alive. Only then you can proceed to make a shallow diagonal cut right behind its pectoral fin. Make sure to angle the knife forward over the head.

Use the tip of the knife to make a slit from the end of the cut you just created along the dorsal fin and until the rear of the panfish. Once you come directly above the vent, push the tip down through the belly.

Follow the spine as close as possible with a light motion until you reach the tail. Use the tip of the knife to enlarge that slit along the dorsal fin. Follow the structure of the skeleton as closely as you can to avoid any waste. Slice it until you come to the top of the rib cage.

Work it slowly over the pectoral bones and ribs. You can either use the knife or your fingers, but be careful not to rip the fillet. Cut the fillet free once you’ve gotten as much meat as possible. Use your fingers to check if there are any small bones left in the fillet you made. If you come across any, simply cut around it to get it out.

Now you should take the skin off the meat. Begin at the tail end and slice near the skin. Hold the skin and pull it slightly as you cut, but make sure not to rip it. If you do it slowly and carefully, you should separate the skin quite quickly.

Wash your filets and pat dry them with a paper towel. Don’t worry if you come across small black mites inside the fillet. These won’t survive the cooking so just leave them there if you want to. You can always wash them off if you feel uncomfortable about them.

How To Cook Mola?

It can be prepared in many different ways, so it’s up to you to choose based on your preference and taste. The best ways to cook it are by baking and pan-frying.

If you opt for pan-frying, cut it into fillets before you add salt, pepper and a coat of flour. Put the fillets in hot oil and fry them for three minutes on each side until it’s golden brown.

Baking it is just as easy. Just put it in aluminum foil before you add seasoning of your choice. You can even add some lemon and herbs over it. Fold the foil and bake the fillets in the oven under 350F for fifteen minutes.

Final Thoughts

Mola is a specie over a million years old and completely safe to eat. It does look a bit like those large poisonous species often found in the ocean, but it’s unlike any of them. There’s no fear of poisoning with this one, and it’s also quite delicious.

Because it’s an endangered species, sunfish would be tricky to find if you live in a European Union country. Before you go fishing, make sure to check if it’s not banned where you’re coming from.

There’s a unique approach to catching this fish because it’s as large and heavy. However, the taste is unique and worth the bit of struggle needed to find it.

Recommended Reading

About the author

    David Chavez

    I love blogging anything and everything related to fishing!. Much of my background comes from Freshwater fishing, but I'm also pretty decent when out in the ocean. My goal is to help other anglers better their skill-sets with proper guides, and just have fun doing so.

    Click here to add a comment

    Leave a comment: