How do you stop an invasive fish species?
Lionfish, with their billowing spiky fins, are strikingly beautiful – but once you know their story, their beauty becomes maleficent. They’re native to the South Pacific (likely released as aquarium fish off Florida in the late 80s) and have no predators in the Caribbean. As a result they reproduce prolifically and consume the native fish with the same enthusiasm.
They’re in Anguilla now; D has spotted them on multiple dives:
Fortunately, it turns out that lionfish are as delicious as they are merciless, which means we can do something to fight back.
In Florida and across the Caribbean, governments and non-profits and dive organizations are mobilizing to catch lionfish (even in otherwise protected marine sanctuaries), introducing the public to eating them, and even trying to give sharks a taste for them.
In Anguilla, fishermen are bringing in lionfish and restaurants are serving them, including Straw Hat, Mango’s, and Tasty’s. The catch is still a bit hit-or-miss (thank goodness they haven’t overrun the reefs yet) so look for it as a special.
From Chef Nick at Straw Hat:
We had a lionfish dinner at Straw Hat, starting with lionfish ceviche with lime juice, some finely diced tomatoes, and fried plantain chips. The raw fish is amazing – silky tender, mild, with a pristinely clean flavor.
For a main, D had coconut-crusted lionfish with jerk mashed potatoes. Cooked, the fish is still tender and easily took on the flavor of the slightly sweet coconut. It’s a really versatile fish; I think it would be delicious any way it’s prepared.
Do try it if you see it!