Lionfish

Lionfish, Pterois volitans

Region of Origin: The South Pacific and Indian Oceans (i.e., the Indo-Pacific region).

Habitat: Lionfish are found in almost all marine habitat types found in warm marine waters of the tropics.

Current Range: Indo-Pacific region, Atlantic Ocean’s Southeastern US coastline, the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Life Span: 6 years

People have been dumping lionfish into the Atlantic for 25 years, and these voracious invaders are also abundant in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Since lionfish are not native to Atlantic waters, they have very few predators. They feed on native reef life such as small crustaceans and fish, including important commercial fish species such as snapper and grouper. Divers hunt them, conservation organizations host fishing competitions, and lobster fishermen trap them. But we can all help lessen their impact by eating them! They are delicious. Lionfish have a buttery mild flavor, and most flaky meat that allows these Omega-3 rich fish to be prepared in many exciting ways to please any palate.

lionfish 450 x 300

Lionfish Ceviche

Courtesy of Tricia Ferguson and Lad Akins of The Lionfish Cookbook, and posted by Erin Spencer in her article: Lionfish: Gotta Eat ‘Em to Beat ‘Em, published in Explorers Journal, National Geographic, July 10, 2013.

Ingredients:

8 Lionfish fillets
1 tomato
2 scotch bonnet peppers
½ onion
8 limes
¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsps. finely chopped cilantro

Dice fish into 1-inch pieces and place in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, juice the 8 limes. Add the lime juice to fish and marinate 1 ½ hours.

Dice the onions, tomatoes, and scotch bonnet peppers, and add to fish mixture. Stir in salt and cilantro. Cover and place back in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator and serve.

 

castaway's wreck-diver style lionfish 450 x 250
Castaway’s Wreck-Diver style lionfish- a personal favorite of Erin Spencer; photo copyrighted and courtesy of Erin Spencer.

Castaway’s Wreck Diver-style Lionfish

Courtesy of Castaway Waterfront Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Marathon Key, Florida, and posted by Erin Spencer in her article: Lionfish: Gotta Eat ‘Em to Beat ‘Em, published in Explorers Journal, National Geographic, July 10, 2013.

Ingredients:

42 oz. lionfish fillets, patted dry
Flour (for coating)
5 cloves garlic, diced
2½ cups chopped tomatoes
5 tsp. capers
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh basil
Parsley or kale for garnish
Lemon wedge for garnish

Dredge fillets in flour to lightly dust. Place in sauté pan with small amount of hot butter over medium heat. Cook first side, careful not to burn.

Turn over fish when golden, and reduce heat while adding garlic, tomatoes, capers, white wine and lemon juice. Cover to hold steam in and cook until fish is fork-tender. Add basil and serve immediately. Garnish with sprig of parsley or kale and lemon wedge.

lionfish ceviche 450 x 250
Lionfish Ceviche prepared by Chef Kareem Anguin from the Oceanaire Seafood Room in Miami, FL; photo copyrighted and courtesy of Erin Spencer.

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