Recently, my hula kumu (sensei/teacher) brought in shark meat and skins from a fishing tour she took here in the southern part of Okinawa main island. Now, admittedly, I paled a bit… killing/eating sharks can be a bit taboo in Hawaiian culture (since some people believe it may be a god or guardian spirit or ancestor), so this was a bit of a shock to me. Now, it depends, as some people do catch and eat shark in Hawaii (only the cutting and eating of fins is illegal), but I would say overall it is somewhat uncommon.
Now, I have seen shark (サメ pronounced sah-meh) for sale in some of the Okinawa grocery stores with fancier fresh fish sections before, so I knew it was not unusual for Japanese people, per se. But it was still a shock, and not just to me but some of my Okinawan hula friends as well since it is not a commonly eaten food.
Anyway, it was certainly unique to hear and see video/pictures of the experience, as well as see the meat and skins in person. We helped clean the skins (皮 kawa) to be used to make drums later. My kumu gave away the meat to anyone who was willing; I am sorry to announce I simply was not up to the challenge so I cannot give any personal story here. My kumu recommended frying in butter and garlic; some of my friends made like a bread-crumb crusted bake as well. Most claimed “oishii,” though some of my friends like myself declined the shark meat challenge. After all, it was not the most pleasant of odors… though maybe I missed out on something delicious. I am still uncertain about how I feel regarding shark meat.
So, if you are in Okinawa, and would like to experience eating shark, it is very possible to do. I am not sure I comfortably recommend it, but it is definitely possible. I don’t know that I have ever seen it on a restaurant menu though so you may need to buy it from the grocery store and prepare it yourself. Perhaps I need to add this to the bizarre foods of Okinawa post I made earlier…