Is turtle, meat or seafood? Turtle is seafood according to the Catholic Church, but you probably should be careful if you're a real hard-liner, because a lot of places will substitute veal in turtle soup, which is clearly not a seafood.
The meat of the turtle is reddish-pink in color and has a distinctive flavor that some describe as fishy or pork-like. The texture can be compared to veal or crab, but many find it similar to chicken. The meat of the green turtle is consumed in many countries, including China, Poland, Turkey, and Russia.
Turtles have been a culinary treat since the time of the first American settlers. Green snapping turtles were abundant in America, and settlers began using the tender meat to make stew. Today, that stew is known as turtle soup.
Do people eat turtles? Yes, they do but the consumption of turtles is not as popular as it used to be. Regardless, in many places around the world such as southeast Asia in places such as Singapore and China, turtle soup is a delicacy.
"Turtle meat has a lot of protein but very little fat and almost no carbohydrates," she says. It is also a source of several micronutrients - including selenium, vitamin B12, iron, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin and zinc.
Snapping turtles and sea turtles are the most commonly eaten turtles. While turtles are a part of some regional cuisines, including the spicy symphony of flavors found in southern Louisiana, they are not considered a mainstream entree. For this reason, if you are going to cook a turtle, be selective.
The flavor of turtle runs across a spectrum of fishy-to-beefy, depending on the variety and the method of cooking. Sea turtles -- most of which are now protected species -- actually fall on the 'beefy' side, often being compared to veal in both flavor and texture, though with abundant and savory fat.
What does turtle meat taste like? A large snapping turtle is said to contain seven distinct types of meat, each reminiscent of pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, veal, fish or goat. (Those less enamored of the protein might describe its flavor as muddy, dirty, mushy and chewy, however.)
Eating sea turtles is not as enjoyable as those who promote the practice might suggest. These creatures are an unsafe food choice as they carry several illness-causing chemicals such as toxins, heavy metals, and other environmental contaminants.
Another type of poisoning believed to be related to cyanobacteria is called “chelonitoxism” and occurs after consumption of contaminated sea turtle meat. This is a rare disease that most commonly occurs in Indo-Pacific countries such as Madagascar and the Philippines.
There's a reason why you won't find turtle soup anywhere in America. Most countries around the world (including America) have banned the hunting and selling of sea turtle meat for conservation and animal cruelty reasons. Even so, illegal poaching of these creatures is still a problem.
Almost the entire turtle is edible except the lungs, gall bladder, skeleton, skull and nails. The legs and tail are particularly esteemed, but remove the skin before eating.
In China, however, turtle meat and blood are prized food. “China has eaten through their turtle populations, and the snapping turtle being the second largest freshwater turtle in the United States makes it a good target to fill that international demand.”
Soak turtle meat in cold salt water 2+ hours. Drain, add fresh water to cover and add 1/2 teaspoon soda. Simmer until nearly done. I recommend pressure cooking turtle for 20 minutes at 10 pounds with salt water, not soda.
I didn't realize it then, but what I was eating was green sea turtle meat, which is silky and slightly chewy and tastes a bit like chicken or veal. It's also an endangered species thanks to overhunting. I remember feeling proud of myself for trying something new, and actually enjoying it.
In the United States, the common snapping turtle has long been the principal species used for turtle soup. In this case the soup is also referred to as snapper turtle soup, or simply snapper soup (not to be confused with red snapper soup, which is made from the fish red snapper).
Snake meat is not common in Western meals, but is popular in other cultures for its supposed health benefits. Snake meat is also being more widely accepted as a healthy exotic game meat, and is often offered along side other exotic meats like alligator and ostrich in Western restaurants or over the Internet.
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to being a good source of protein, soft-shelled turtle is high in calcium, with 20 percent of your recommended daily total. Vitamins A, B1, B2, and B6 and phosphorous and zinc are plentiful in turtle meat.
Poisoning by turtle meat is called chelonitoxin or turtle poisoning and has been reported from many countries in the Indian Ocean, including Seychelles. The vast majority of turtle poisoning cases have come from eating hawksbill turtle meat, but green turtle meat can also be poisonous.
The Indian flap shell turtle is protected under Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which makes its capture, possession, consumption and trade illegal.
For thousands of years turtles have been used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments and diseases.
Soft-shelled turtle eggs (from all kinds of turtles, not just soft-shelled ones) are usually eaten raw or very lightly heated, and their taste is said to be more flavorful than chicken eggs though some note a “musky” aftertaste.
The giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands are reputedly the tastiest thing anyone has ever eaten. William Dampier, a 17th-century British pirate who based himself on the Galapagos Islands described them as being "extraordinary large and fat, and so sweet, that no pullet eats more pleasantly".
You can either skin it, or cook it with the skin on (in a soup, maybe?). Once you've skinned it (sorry, no more pictures), if it's an old granddaddy snapper (12 + pounds or so), parboil the meat first, to tenderize it. After that (or if it was a younger turtle), you can roast/fry it just like chicken.