What better way to celebrate Shark Week than, well, eating a shark? While some may think twice about it, is eating shark any more cruel than eating, say, a cow or a pig?
Some species of shark are endangered, and while we definitely don't endorse eating those, there are plenty of local, sustainable and ethically-sourced shark dishes available in NYC.
You don't need to be put off by the idea of eating shark. If you eat seafood, there's a chance you've enjoyed some bites of shark already. Shark is often listed on menus as dogfish, monkfish or other friendlier-sounding variations that are all just breeds of edible shark.
From Mediterranean to Carribbean to Latin cuisines, consumption of shark stretches around the world, from various coasts right back to our own.
Ovelia, a Greek restaurant in Astoria, serves a dish called Galeos, which translates literally to shark from Greek), and uses grilled baby dogfish. Chef Peter Giannakas prepares his Galeos traditionally, cutting it into small steaks and coating the meat in flour before pan frying it in extra virgin olive oil.
"Shark is very tender and a good canvas for flavor," Giannakas says.
Taverna Kyclades, another esteemed Greek restaurant in both Astoria and the East Village, also serves grilled or fried baby shark with a side of garlic dip, alongside a menu full of other fresh seafood.
Crown Heights' Island Burger serves Caribbean themed burgers like salmon and crispy chicken, as well as a shark option, topped with island specialties like pineapple, mango chutney and plantains. amNewYork called Island Burger multiple times to find out what kind of shark is used, but the calls were not returned.
Arepas Cafe, a popular Venezuelan restaurant in Queens serves school shark empanadas along with a fish dish called Pabellon Margariteno, consisting of shredded baby shark, white rice and black beans sprinkled with grated white cheese and fried sweet plantains.
Shark fin soup and dishes using shark fin can be found on some menus of Chinese restaurants, as eating the fin has long been associated with Chinese culture. The controversial practice has been somewhat abandoned due to heightened awareness of shark finning, which is the practice of removing just the fin from the shark and then tossing it back. A new report from WildAid this month reported that shark fin sales and prices are down 50-70% in China.
Last year, a bill banning the possession, sale and ingestion of shark fin was signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and shark fin imitations have been created to mimic the flavor. Shark fin is still reportedly being served at some city restaurants, but when amNewYork called a couple, we were told it was no longer on the menu.
The shark fin dumplings at the Upper East Side's Cafe Evergreen are made with pork and vegetables, "no seafood at all," reported the restaurant. Sunset Park's East Harbor Seafood lists an entire menu of shark fin options, but said they no longer serve it. Same thing for Flushing's Asian Jewels Seafood. "No shark here," an employee said.
Those who want to get in the Shark Week spirit but can't quite take the bait can opt for mock shark dumplings at Chinatown's Vegetarian Dim Sum.
While some restaurants serve shark apologetically, others prefer to keep it off the plate. Surf Bar, the beach-themed Williamsburg restaurant known for its sand floors and surfer decor used to have a shark pasta on the menu but that option has been removed, in favor of a lobster pappardelle.
"We don't serve shark pasta anymore and we regret we did ... we actually love sharks," said a representative from the restaurant.
Swim (or walk, actually) to one of these restaurants to try out their shark (or imitation shark) dishes.
Galeos at Ovelia
Ovelia serves their Galeos grilled with a side of "skordalia" --a potato garlic spread whipped with extra virgin Greek olive oil and ground almond for added richness. Ovelia also uses shark in their tasty seafood yiouvetsi which is a baked orzo dish with fresh tomato sauce and and Greek organic saffron. The restaurant sources from markets in NYC that offer smooth dogfish shark from the Long Island Sound. (Credit: Ovelia )
Shark Fin Dumpling at Golden Unicorn
Chinatown's Golden Unicorn (18 East Broadway) used to serve shark fin dumplings and bowls of braised shark fin soup with shredded chicken or crab meat. (Credit: flickr/missmeng)
Grilled Baby Shark at Taverna Kyclades
Enjoy with garlic dip, just like any crispy appetizer! (Credit: flickr/wwny)
Arepa de Cazon at Arepas Cafe
This corn cake stuffed with fresh school shark is a classic dish at the Queens eatery Arepas Cafe. (Credit: Facebook/ Arepas Cafe)
Mock Shark Fin Dumplings at Vegetarian Dim Sum
These mock shark fin dumplings are made without harming a single fish. Enjoy them along with other vegan and vegetarian friendly dim sum at the Chinatown veggie staple. (Credit: flickr/scaredykat)