Muktuk: The Inuit Whale Delicacy

Muktuk: The Inuit Whale Delicacy

Muktuk is a traditional Inuit delicacy that consists of whale meat cut into cubes. Yes, you read that right! This dish is certainly not for the faint of heart. It evokes a very polarized reaction from people.

Muktuk is eaten by Inuits predominantly in Greenland, Canada and Alaska, USA. Now you may have already heard of the other, frankly quite shocking, inuit delicacy of Kiviak. And while Muktuk is certainly less bizarre than that, it’s certainly one of the weirder foods eaten around the world!

Growing up as a kid, you might’ve read that a whale (blue whale, to be specific) is the largest animal in the world. You might’ve seen footage of a whale swimming around the ocean, in all its massive glory.

But had you ever imagined that the same animal, with its huge dimensions, could be laying on the platter for you to devour?! Well, we welcome you to Muktuk

Some list it as one of the world’s most disgusting foods, while others have gone on a 30 Day Muktuk Diet and actually gotten some effective weight loss results. Curious to find out more? We got you covered. In this article, we break down everything you need to know about the Inuit delicacy Muktuk. 

What Is Muktuk?

Muktuk is the skin and blubber of bowhead, narwhal or beluga whales cut into cubes.

When served in its typical form, muktuk has a nutty, oily taste. It can also be pickled and deep fried, and then served with soy sauce.

In terms of appearance, Muktuk looks like a black cap of skin with striated layers of gray and white or soft, pink-white blubber.

The skin is super elastic – it’ll bounce back with each chew. The blubber, on the other hand, melts easily as you chew on. 

Now, we’re not keeping any secret here, guys. Many people find the taste of Muktuk to be extremely repulsive.

It’s a fascinating dish, but it certainly can’t be described as mouth-watering or delicious or anything of the sort (unless you’ve really acquired a taste for it). If you can get past the taste, though, the dish has quite some nutritional value to offer.

It is a rich source of vitamin C (the epidermis contains up to 39 mg per 3.5 oz) which is crucial to the North where diseases such as scurvy continue to persist. Also, the whale blubber is a valuable source of vitamin D. 

What Does Muktuk Taste Like?

Some say it tastes like fried eggs. Others feel a resemblance with fresh coconut. One enthusiastic diner goes on to describe it as “not unlike jerky, but tastes like the meat of a cow fed a strict diet of sardines”.

As you can tell, these descriptions are all very different from each other. It’s interesting to note that the dish tastes so unique, there’s no particular reference point for people to think of. “Weird” flavor and tender-crisp texture. Seems like a fascinating combo!

Pickled Muktuk Recipe

Muktuk is a traditional inuit delicacy of whale chunks, predominantly eaten in Inuit regions such as Greenland and Alaska.

Cuisine inuit
Prep Time 5 days
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Travel Food Atlas

Ingredients

For the Brine

  • 1 piece Muktuk meat
  • 1 tsp Pickling spice
  • 3-4 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 5 Cloves
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • 2 cups Water
  • 3 cups White Vinegar

For Cooking & Storing

  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 White Onions

Instructions

  1. To make the brine, simply combine the ingredients, mix thoroughly and boil.=

  2. Leave the brine to cool.=

  3. Boil the muktuk meat whole for 30 minutes, adding salt and pepper as it boils

  4. Take it out of the pan and dice into small chunks

  5. Rinse the chunks in hot water twice

  6. Place in a large jar along with peeled onions and the cooled brine.

  7. Refrigerate for 5-7 days and then your pickled Muktuk is ready to eat!

Watch: Inuits Preparing Whale Meat for Muktuk

Well if that hasn’t wet your appetite then I don’t know what will! You may have a bit of trouble trying this recipe at home, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to source your own whale.

However, if you find yourself living with an inuit community, they may allow you to help them prepare muktuk. Although tasting this delicacy is possibly only for the brave!

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