How To Eat Sea Lamprey, The Most Hideous Fish In The World

"Take a living lamprey, and let him bleed at the navel, and let him bleed in an earthen pot."
10/20/2015 01:49pm ET | Updated July 7, 2017

If you're looking for something truly gruesome to serve at your Halloween potluck, we give you the humble sea lamprey.

It might not be a hit, but people will surely remember it.

Eating sea lampreys has been a French delicacy since the middle ages -- King Henry I of England is said to have died from a "surfeit of lampreys" after eating so many -- and it's made by soaking the hideous-looking sea lamprey (an eel-like cartilaginous parasitic fish) in its own blood for a few days.

"They’re not a bad food fish. They hardly have any bones. You cut them into chunks,” Lars Rudstam, director of the Cornell Biological Field Station in Bridgeport, New York, told Syracuse.com. "They have a different taste. Like squid."

As babies, sea lampreys are blind and feed by filtering micro-organisms through the water. But as adults, they attach themselves to other fish (or even dolphins) by “using their sucking mouthparts” ― a jawless mouth full of teeth ― “to attach themselves to the host’s body,” the Alaska Department of Fish and Game explains. Oh and by the way, they can kill up to 40 fish a year.

Oh ― and they breed when a male wraps himself around a female to squeeze out her eggs.

So why would anyone want to eat them? A writer for Vice, who attended a dinner held by the Sea Lamprey Society in Denmark, said lamprey bordelaise was “unbelievably delectable; it didn’t taste like either meat or fish.”

The recipe below for Sauce Pour Lamprey comes from “A Curious History of Food and Drink” by Ian Crofton, transcribed from the mid-fifteenth century book, “A Noble Boke of Cokery.”

We dare you to try it and not feel like a witch.

MychkoAlezander via Getty Images

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