Lionfish: If You Can’t Beat Um’ – Eat Um’
|April 2, 2012||Posted by Mindy under Seafood|
How does a fish that resembles the head of a lion and is native to the South Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea end up off the Florida Coast? That question has been plaguing marine scientists since the invasive lionfish was found off our beautiful coast in early 1990. Theories of how the Lionfish ended up in the Gulf Coast abound but most point to an accidental cause. Was it an aquarium in South Florida that was destroyed during the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew? Or was it simply an aquarium enthusiast who was tired of his lionfish eating everything smaller than him in his home aquarium?
Since their discovery, the lionfish population has boomed 700% in some areas between 2004 and 2008. Lionfish can live as long as 15 years, they reproduce every four days – year round and females release egg clusters which can contain up to 15,000 eggs. With no natural enemies, abundant prey and a rapid reproduction level, it’s no wonder that they are invading our waters at lightning speed. A recent study showed that to maintain current Lionfish population densities, at least 27% of the invasive adult population would have to be culled monthly. In fact, the situation is so dire that in November of 2010, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary began to give out licenses to divers to kill lionfish inside the sanctuary – a first for the organization in their 20 year history.
So how do we combat an invasive species that is rapidly depleting our population of important juvenile reef fish such as grouper and snapper? Why not eat them? Once you catch (by spear, net or hand caught using thick gloves) a Lionfish and remove the dangerous venomous spines, they are actually quite delicious. The meat is a delicate white meat with a succulent buttery flavor.
There are numerous websites out there as well as entire cookbooks dedicated to delicious lionfish entrees. For a wealth of information regarding the lionfish invasion and the efforts involved in tackling this growing problem visit www.Reef.Org . Reef.org has also released a Lionfish cookbook available for purchase on their site. Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook support their marine conservation and lionfish research activities. Reef.org was kind enough to forward me a recipe from the cookbook. Check it out!
Lionfish Nachos (The Lionfish Cookbook from Reef.Org)
8 wonton wrappers
2 Tbs sweet Thai chili sauce
½ cup oil
1 cup seaweed salad
8 lionfish fillets
¼ cup wasabi mayonnaise
2 Tbs sweet soy sauce
Place oil in frying pan and heat until hot. Place one wonton wrapper in at a time and cook briefly until it starts to bubble (approximately 10 seconds). Turn over and cook another 10 seconds. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
Put wasabi mayo into a squeeze bottle and set aside. Combine sweet soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and soy sauce together in bowl and set aside. Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Cook lionfish fillets in skillet over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until flaky and tender. Cut or flake lionfish into small pieces. Toss lionfish in soy sauce mixture. Place lionfish on wonton wrappers and top with seaweed salad and drizzle with wasabi mayonnaise. Enjoy!