Can you eat lionfish? This topic has been coming up frequently in South Florida since our waters are filled with the invasive lionfish species. The surprising answer is yes, society does consume lionfish and they are very enjoyable! Eating a non-native lionfish is great for numerous reasons.
It is a great seafood choice because by eliminating the non–native lionfish species helps save our beautiful reefs and the native fish can improve from the environmental burdens. Eating lionfish is actually a healthier choice than most other fish species that are regularly served in restaurants such as snapper, grouper and tuna. Lionfish have higher Omega 3 which are very healthy fatty acids and lower in saturated fats and in mercury too! Basically, by selecting lionfish as your entrée choice, you are putting money back in to the local South Florida economy, joining an vital cause and supporting worthy people all at the same time!
Did I mention Lionfish are delicious! If you enjoy fish courses, lionfish may just rank near your top favorite preferences! Properly prepared lionfish are not poisonous to eat as many would assume. Lionfish is served in many local restaurants and cooked in numerous different ways. Only the spines of the lionfish are poisonous and no venom is in the flesh or in the meat at all. “Lionfish is a white flaky fish, firmer in texture than halibut, no “red line” with a flavor profile somewhere between a thin grouper fillet and mahi mahi (dolphinfish) with a touch of butteriness.” The most common methods to eat lionfish seem to be in ceviche, fried or raw, sushi or sashimi-style.
If you want to try lionfish, below, is a list of South Florida restaurants that properly serve this tasty fish.
• The Square Grouper Bar & Grill (Cudjoe Key)
• KrazyFish: Thai, Sushi & More (Ft Pierce)
• Chef Michael’s (Islamorada)
• Lazy Days Restaurant (Islamorada)
• Ziggy and Mad Dog”s (Islamorada)
• Food Shack (Jupiter)
• Key Largo Conch House (Key Largo)
• Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen (Key Largo)
• The Fish House Encore (Key Largo)
• Castaway Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Marathon)
• Fish Fish (Miami)
If you want the freshest lionfish possible, you will have to hunt lionfish and catch them on your own. In South Florida you can also go to a local dive shop and ask for a referral to a diver who is actively hunting lionfish; perhaps you can score some lionfish from that diver. Either way, if you are cleaning, filleting and preparing lionfish, check out the preparation before handling; lionfish are easier to clean and fillet than you may imagine.