My First Taste of Sting Ray

spicy and sour sting ray dish
We live somewhat close to the sea and so we often get to see interesting sights – like this sting ray that a fisherman caught and which the husband bought. Now I have never eaten a sting ray before but as I am some kind of an adventurer in the gastronomic department, I was quite excited to sample it.

Fast facts on sting rays

They look strange.

These weird-looking sea creatures have eyes on top, mouth and gills on the underside and like to bury themselves under the sand. They come equipped with sensors which enable them to geo-locate their prey which includes mollusks, crustaceans and small fishes.

They make exotic dishes.

Sting rays are cartilaginous members of the shark family and are really considered delicacies in some Asian countries, notably Singapore and Malaysia where they are grilled over charcoal and then poured with sambal sauce on top.
sting ray

Filipinos eat sting ray! (Some, anyway.)

Here in the Philippines, sting rays are typically cooked in vinegar and herbs (paksiw and inon-on) and then added with coconut milk. That is how we cooked the sting ray we just bought. It was delicious, though not insanely delicious as I thought it would be. It’s just unfortunate that we had it for supper — the lack of bright natural light renders photos just so dim and so not share-worthy.

Their tails make savage whips.

Sting rays have this venomous barbed stinger in their tails which have been used in slavery days as cruel scourges and whips. My parents told of Spanish conquistadors who used these latigos to whip their Filipino subjects. Being whipped with the tail of a sting ray (ikog sa pagi) has been the most feared corporal punishment ancient people used on their erring kids. This would be unthinkable now.
The famous crocodile hunter Steve Irwin died of a freak sting ray injury when the barbed stinger pierced through his thoracic wall, causing massive trauma. Sting ray injury can be difficult to treat since the stinger can break into fragments inside the skin and would require surgery to remove the splinters. Sting rays do not deliberately attack people, though, but they do use their stinger to defend themselves.

They have other uses.

The hard leathery skin of the sting ray is being used in Japan as exotic sword sheaths, wallets, shoes, bags, belts, jackets and cellphone cases.
The first photo is an Asian way of making sting ray into a spicy and sour dish. Here is the recipe. The next time our friendly fisherman catches a sting ray, I’d dig up this recipe so my family can sample this exotic dish. Yet how often does one get to eat sting ray, anyway?

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