The Lionfish is an invasive species of Indo-Pacific fish that has taken over in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean and is currently wreaking havoc on the marine ecosystem. The Lionfish has no natural predators and has a voracious appetite that makes it outgrow its fish competitors. A key factor in controlling the Lionfish population and the future of the marine environment is to make the Lionfish a commercially desirable fish. The Lionfish, while it does have spiky tentacles, is a delicious whitemeat fish that makes for great eating.
The only predator the lionfish has in our waters is US– Humans! To help eradicate this invasive and destructive species, Lionfish derbies have become very popular (hence why many Caribbean countries have the expression: “eat ’em to beat ’em”). These are Lionfish catching tournaments where those who catch the most, the biggest, the smallest, etc can win prizes. Lionfish can be netted and speared while scuba diving, free diving or snorkeling. If you love fishing or scuba diving, this is a fish that can be especially fun to catch- and you’ll be helping the environment! Keep in mind that they do have venomous spines so be careful when catching them and cleaning them. Here is a video on how to clean a lionfish:
When you visit Florida, look for Lionfish on the menu when eating out as they are becoming more and more popular on restaurant menus. And if you don’t get a chance to catch any yourself, Florida Wholefoods are now carrying Lionfish. They do all the cleaning for you! My favorite way to eat Lionfish is to make Ceviche out of it. Ceviche is another delicacy of the Tropics and a great way to eat your fresh caught Florida Snapper or Grouper. Here is my recipe for Lionfish Ceviche; however, any Florida whitefish can be substituted for this recipe. I like my Ceviche with a little kick (like a Peruvian style) but you can omit the peppers if you don’t like spice.
Lionfish Ceviche (makes approximately 6 servings)
• 2 lbs lionfish filets
• 1 cup lime juice- approximately 7 large limes
• 1/4 tsp lime zest
• 1 tbsp white vinegar
• 1 red onion, thinly sliced
• 1-2 jalapeno or serrano pepper, diced (depending on how spicy you like!)
• 2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
• 1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
• 2 avocados, diced
• fresh ground pepper, to taste
• sea salt, to taste
Chop the Lionfish into small chunks, making sure that they are evenly sized so they cook evenly. Chop all veggies and set aside. Juice your limes, combine with vinegar. Add the fish and all veggies except the avocado to the lime juice mixture. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes or until the fish is opaque. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with avocado. Serve with plantain or yucca chips for a nice appetizer or light meal when visiting Florida!
How do you like your Ceviche? Please share- every country and region likes their own style!
Note: This post was written in partnership with Visitflorida.com; however all thoughts and ideas are my own. I only work with companies I recommend and endorse!