Can You Eat a Puffin Bird?

Yes, you can eat a puffin for its gamier, sea salt flavor. In Reykjavik, eating smoked puffin is common in restaurants. Eating raw puffin has been a delicacy to the Icelanders.

Talking about puffin eating, it would be better to discuss where it is common to eat it and how to cook it better. Knowing about its nutrition facts would let you explore puffin as a good meat meal. Stay tuned to see how it all connects together.

Can You Eat Puffin in Iceland?

Naturally, this is the place from where you get the initiative of eating puffin with delicacy. To Icelanders, it is not only meat but a tradition of their forefathers.

Eating puffins is a reminder of home to them. In the past, the coastal communities hunted puffins quite often. But when they entered the terrain of being vulnerable, hunting was prohibited except for Iceland and Faroe Islands.

Even in Iceland, it is north which offers you hunting for a limited session during the year.  The areas where you can find puffin in Iceland are listed below:

  • Vestmannaeyjar
  • Akurey
  • Lundey
  • Dýrholae,
  •  Ingólfshöfði Nature Reserve,
  • Borgarfjörður Eystri,
  • Tjörnes Peninsula,
  • Hornbjarg and Hælavíkurbjarg
  • Breiðafjörður
  •  Látrabjarg cliffs.

Why Do Icelanders Eat Puffins?

Elliði Vignisson, mayor of Westman Islands says that it is not the money for which puffins are being hunted in Iceland. They would give you a new and feeling thought.

puffin bird

Their ancestors were the ones who lived on deserted hills below the level of survival feeding themselves on ugly animals.

To them, it is a cultural thing that needs to go on. Three things for which the puffins are hunted by Icelanders are as follows:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Feathers

Can You Eat Puffin Eggs?

Eggs are a high source of protein, vitamins and fats, but it is not the chicken eggs alone that we may eat. Many bird eggs can be a good part of your meal.

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Puffin eggs! Yes, this is one of the things puffins are being hunted for. Puffin eggs are creamy white in color and sometimes have a shade of lilac.

As you may study and find, puffins lay one egg per year and both parents hatch the egg in their wings. So the egg seems to be precious and nutritious as it is not very often come.

Nutrition facts of puffin egg as sold for 100 g / 100 ml are given in the table below:

Energy2,021 kj (483 kcal)
Fat23.9 g
Saturated fat14.7 g
Carbohydrates61.9 g
Sugars54.6 g
Proteins4.7 g
Salt1g

Is It Okay to Eat Puffin?

Yes, it is. But to people who think it is inhumane to kill and let the animals suffer agony in freezing temperatures is a crime.

A law in 1918 was passed to put a ban on killing a puffin. But yes in most areas of the Faroe Islands and Iceland, it is still ok to kill a puffin. It is how you look at the fact.

  •  If you are talking about the endangered puffin, it would be hurting to see the amazing puffin becoming vulnerable to extinction.
  • But if you look through the Icelander’s point of view, it is a delicacy of their culture to keep it reviving.

These two facts create mixed thoughts. You would find both kinds of visitors in Iceland who would ask for a plate of puffin and those as well who would shudder at the thought of eating a cute bird.

What Does Puffin Meat Taste Like?

Puffin is a tender and dark meat having a taste resembling game birds’ taste. Rather you can say, you are eating a salty fish and a game bird’s meat together. Keep the following points in mind for the taste of puffin:

  1. It is lighter in flavor, color and cholesterol as compared to game birds.
  2. It has a salty taste.
  3. It feels like you are eating the liver of an animal.
  4. Its meat taste resembles chicken or beef to some extent also.
  5. Its taste is not that overpowering like game birds meat
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How To Cook Puffin?

Puffin is tender liver-like meat that needs a delicacy in cooking. Smoked puffin is one of the special dishes. Puffins with milk sauce and cured puffins in orange and vanilla syrup are having a taste of their own.

  • Smoked puffin is prepared with a marinade of juniper berries, olive oil, salt and alcohol. The marinated puffin breast is pricked in with a twig to maintain the tenderness. To keep the moisture of the meat, sweet tomatoes are also smoked with the meat. There is also a cucumber and cream salad and brown bread with which the smoked puffin is served.
puffin bird
  • Puffins with milk sauce are stuffed in a pot. Then the pot is filled with hot water and milk and the meat is cooked till it is tender. The meat is served with white sauce and boiled potatoes.
  • Another way of serving puffins meat is cured breast with syrup of orange and vanilla. The puffin breasts are cured for 12 hours in brown sugar, salt, thyme, fennel seeds, rosemary, rose pepper and mustard seeds. In a separate pan, orange juice is reduced with vanilla beans, garlic and olive oil. Both are served together.

Hope the recipe briefing would give you an idea of puffin meat handling like the way ratatouille did in the movie. Here is a video on the smoked puffin dish.

Nutrition Facts of Puffin Bird Meat

Puffin meat have a strong fact file in terms of nutritional benefits. They are rich in protein. Here is a table to show what and how much the bird’s meat contains. So, every 100 grams contain the following amount of contents:

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fat42. grams (6% of total calories)
carbohydrates37 grams (26 % of total calories)
protein23.9 grams (48 % of total calories)
Cholesterol0 mg

Other elements present in puffin meat are iron, folate, vitamin B12, and selenium.  High levels of omega-6 fatty acids in puffin meat are important to control inflammation and cholesterol in the body.

FAQs

Can you eat raw puffin heart?

Yes, it again is a cultural thing for the Icelanders and you would only find elderly people of Iceland eating a raw puffin heart.

Some people say that it tastes like beef jerky. It is served with many gravies and sauces. Icelanders consider it the best part of the puffin.

Can you eat puffins in UK and Ireland?

In the UK, 10% of the total breeding population lives. The status of the puffins there is red. Various reasons are there for the decline in the number of puffins.

In Ireland, it is the mother cliff where you find them in larger numbers. Except for Faroe island and Iceland, puffin hunting is illegal.

Is puffin red meat?

Yes, puffin meat is red and has a darker, richer flavor, richer than duck or goose. It has a kind of fatty flavor to it.

What is puffin meat called?

Puffins in Iceland are called Lundi. The word puffin is from puffed. That name for puffin is given for its young, fatty and salty taste

Conclusion

Eating a puffin is something special. Even the bird is near the level where it can be labeled as endangered. And in some areas, it is already prohibited to hunt a puffin.

But on the other hand, the dangers to puffins are not human hunting but human activities or plastic in the water, oil spilling into the ocean and the introduction of new animals to the breeding area of puffins.

Yet, the act has a weightage. Let alone the Icelanders follow the delicacy and give you the pleasure of presenting puffin dishes to their customers.

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