A Few Easy Ways to Prepare Lionfish

Invasive lionfish have been the scourge of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean for over three decades now, and their expansion into areas that are increasingly out of reach for diving limits has only worsened the situation. Because lionfish are voracious and seemingly insatiable predators with no real preference for prey, dramatic species decimation is occurring as far north as New York and as far south as Argentina. It is imperative that any diver do what they can to cull these destroyers from the reefs before the damage is irreversible. Here are just a few easy ways to prepare lionfish.



It is important to note that while the flesh is not toxic, the spines of the lionfish contain a potent venom that can cause great pain, nausea, swelling, shortness of breath, and a variety of other non-life threatening symptoms. Be sure to research how to safely remove the spines before attempting to do so, or have an experienced person handle the task.

Pan Fried
Season a whole lionfish with salt and pepper. Drizzle your preferred cooking oil into a heated pan over medium high heat and cook the fish until browned on both sides. Enjoy with rice and steamed vegetables.

Steamed
Wrap a whole lionfish in banana leaves or parchment paper and steam it with an array of fresh vegetables. Because the tender white flesh of the lionfish cooks quickly, you'll be able to cook both together for the same length of time. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice when finished cooking.

Deep Fried
Yet another approach to preparing whole lionfish is deep drying. Dredge the fish in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper, followed by a brief dip in a mixture of beaten egg and your favorite beer — just long enough to coat the entire fish. Carefully place into a deep fryer basket and plunge into your pre-heated oil. The fish is done cooking when it floats and there are few to no bubbles. Serve with roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes for a hearty meal.

Fried Fillets
This way to prepare lionfish uses the same basic recipe as the deep fried whole fish, but with cut fillets instead. You may want a heavier breading layer, and you can even use panko crumbs for a crispier texture. Serve with tartar sauce or malt vinegar and potato fries for a version of fish and chips that actually helps the oceans instead of depleting them.



Tacos
Perhaps the easiest way to prepare lionfish is to make tacos. Pan fry lionfish fillets with ample seasoning until cooked through, then cut into smaller pieces and add to a bed of shredded cabbage on a corn tortilla. Garnish with pico de gallo salsa and a squeeze of lime for a meal that's not only delicious, but easy on the waistline as well.

Images via gruntzooki, jeffreyw

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