Lionfish are literally invading the Caribbean. These aggressive and venomous fish began breeding prolifically in the Caribbean around 2000 — and they haven’t stopped. However, chefs have a solution for the lionfish infestation: Eat them! If that sounds gross, keep reading. Apparently, lionfish make for a tasty meal.
The lionfish certainly looks neat — it’s a popular fish for saltwater tanks in the U.S., but it is becoming a problem in the ocean. Native to the Indo-Pacific, this aggressive and venomous fish has found its way to the Caribbean, where the species has enjoyed a predator-free existence.
While that may be great for the lionfish, it’s not such good news for the local fish populations. Fox reports that the lionfish threatens the existence of juvenile fish as well as the health of reefs. It turns out the lionfish can be just as menacing as it looks!
One potential solution to the lionfish overpopulation in the Caribbean? Eat it, of course! While locals aren’t so keen on scarfing down a lionfish dinner, a new Eat Sustainable, Eat Lionfish campaign launched by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is attempting to slow down the lionfish population by serving it up for dinner.
Not feeling that adventurous? Try these more typical grilled fish recipes >>
“The [Eat Lionfish campaign] is a major incentive and a way to provide access to information about the lionfish invasion and how to handle the fish,” Lad Akins, co-author of The Lionfish Cookbook and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation director of special projects, told Fox. “One of the best incentives is turning it into a food source.”
Wondering how to prepare a lionfish for dinner? It’s not exactly easy. Some chefs wear surgeon’s gloves and use scissors to remove the spines, and then they clean and fillet the fish. However, cooking the fish also neutralizes the poison, so it’s possible to handle them very carefully and simply cook them without the prep work.
A pricey meal
The going rate for lionfish is approximately $16 – $18 a pound, and an average price for a lionfish meal at some restaurants hovers around $30.
If you’re not brave enough to try an entire lionfish, some restaurants serve it up in various forms, such as in tacos and fancy apps.
Because lionfish is becoming somewhat trendy, the price is rising. However, those familiar with the reasons behind turning the spined menace into dinner insist that the population reduction is the main goal.