We’re been hearing about an outlaw wreaking havoc along the Southern coast. He goes by lionfish, a spiny invasive species that is threatening the ecosystem of the Gulf. Voracious eaters, they’ve flooded local waters in recent years, competing at the feed trough with native snapper and grouper.
Various seafood coalitions are doing battle with the fish with trap, cage, stun gun, and hook, even holding lionfish rodeos to draw awareness among the sport fishing crowd. We asked the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition to send a few fish to the Southern Living Test Kitchen last week after a rodeo on the Alabama coast.
I seasoned the lionfish filets with salt and pepper and seared them in olive oil in a hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, swirling in a pat of butter during the last minute of cooking.
The verdict? Lionfish, with its mild flavor and medium white flake, tastes and cooks like a cross between triggerfish and flounder.
We admire the coalitions’ efforts, but the smart play now would be to fight the fish with a massive marketing campaign aimed at hungry seafood lovers. The fact is, lionfish may be invasive, but they taste good. Really good.