Several studies have shown that seal meat has a high content of nutritious elements. It contains less fat, more protein, iron and vitamins than beef. It also contains less than 2 % of fat compared to the fat content of beef at more than 24 %.
Cholesterol content and the level of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids is quite low when compared with other meats, which is an advantage from a nutritional point of view. The muscle contains 15.2 % of Omega 3 fatty acids and 7.5 % of Omega 6 fatty acids. These types of fatty acids are highly beneficial since they fight cardiovascular diseases.
The raw protein content is 24 %, which is ideal for the human diet. Seal meat also has more essential amino acids than beef and pork.
The total percentage of hemoprotein is 8 %. This percentage represents about 20 times the amount found in beef. This high concentration of hemoprotein explains the dark shade of the seal muscle and is a very good source of iron.
It is interesting to note that in recent years more and more chefs are turning to seal meat as a healthy food source that offers them the opportunity to create a wide variety of meals ranging from various sausage cures, to pates, to centre of the plate creations and more.
Allan Bock, OUT OF NECESSITY, GNP Craft Producers, p. 73.
R.L. Olsen, L.Jenssen, E.O. Elvevoll, UTILIZATION OF SEAL OIL, Document présenté à la cinquième conférence sur la gestion et l'utilisation rationnelle des mammifères marins, avril 1992.
Agriculture Canada,RECHERCHE SUR LES CARACTÉRISTIQUES CONNUES DE LA VIANDE DE PHOQUE, Document 1992.
Laurence Madoui, ÉCOLOGIQUE, LA FAUSSE FOURRURE ?, Science et Vie, février 1993, p. 110-113
In the 70s, researchers were interested in a strange phenomenon: why the Inuit of northern Canada had very few heart problem, few issues with blindness and other eye problems. They also seemed much less susceptible to many other health problems common to southern Canada. They determined that one of the key factors was their diet. A the diet rich in seal meat and blubber. The oil and grease have their own section in the latter, we discuss only the aspect of meat.
With modern transport and communications, remote areas have suddenly had access to major centers and their ranges of food.Unfortunately for most indigenous communities, the seal was replaced by industrial meats and other industrial products. Resulting in a precipitous decline in the health of the Inuit population.
Every culture develops recipes from the natural food sources available to them and those cultures in the sealing world have done the same. For their part, Inuit often ate raw meat. The nickname Eskimo is simply "raw meat eater" in the Algonquin language, but was never a word the Inuit were comfortable with. The Inuit way of eating and cooling seal meat and blubber are numerous. In Newfoundland a very popular recipe was, and is, for seal flipper pie In the Magdalen's people like seal meat stewed or baked with vegetables and served with poutine.
In recent years the concept of "nouvelle cuisine" and recipe development have serves to create a wide variety of new products and meals bases upon seal meat. There are now terrines, sausages, steaks, smoked and cured meats and chefs have created wonderful seal dinners for both bistro and high end restaurants..... and this phnonomen has moved out from the traditional areas to markets across Canada and abroad.
This is still an exceptional product and quite difficult to obtain. One of the only places able to transform this meat is found in the Magdalen Islands.
In the Magdalen Islands., we find seal meat meals on the menu of several restaurants:
Elsewhere in Quebec, you can probably get some meat in specialized butcheries
or enjoy seal meat meals in some avant-garde restaurants such as:
Several others, such as le Pied de cochon or Ottawa's Paliament Restaurant serve seal meat meals occasinally or has done so , in the past.
Great chefs also talk about it. Among the books containing recipes for seal meat there are one done by the great french chef Jean-Paul Grappe Gibier à poil et à plume (2008, Éditions de l’Homme). Le Livre gourmand des Îles de la Madeleine (2010, Éditions la Morue verte) also displays on the cover a superb sea bass fillet, dried and dusted with a bouquet of spices.