Lionfish target of Cayman’s culinary month

| 13/01/2011

(CNS): The pesky lionfish which has become for too common a sight on Cayman’s reefs has a target on its back this month as various groups and restaurants involved in the culinary events taking place on Grand Cayman in January seek to put the fish on the menu. Divers are being enlisted to help bag the fish for both environmental reasons and to go in the pot for various cookouts. Although an attractive looking fish Pterois volitans is a dangerous invasive species. Native to the tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean its arrival in the Caribbean seems to be down to an accidental release from a home aquarium in Florida. Lionfish have no natural predators and are outcompeting native species, in particular the Nassau grouper.

The Cobalt Coast lionfish hunt and cookout combines an educational briefing about lionfish, a one-tank dive to catch some and a cooking demonstration as well as a tasting washed down with a glass of wine.
Local dive shop Ambassador Divers with the Department of the Environment will also be culling lionfish in Cayman’s waters which will be cooked and served at Taste of Cayman at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drinks booth. The third in their lionfish culling tournaments, Ambassador Divers hopes to encourage more than 125 divers to take part in this 3-day culling extravaganza. In all, about 300 pounds of lionfish are needed to provide the amount of food needed by Chef Tom at Michael’s Genuine for their booth at Taste of Cayman.

Divers in Caymans waters have been integrally involved in helping to cull, or remove, lionfish from the reefs. As a result there has been an increase in the number of fishing tournaments that target the lionfish as well as many local restaurants offering various dishes on their menus–both for special occasions and as a regular offering. L lionfish ceviche, lionfish fingers, teriyaki lionfish, Greek style lionfish are just some of the dishes that are putting the fish to good use.

While the fish were once prized for their beauty as an aquarium fish they do have food value as well. Despite having dangerous poisonous spines fish is safe to eat as the venom is only in the dorsal spines–not in the flesh. All the danger comes into play in the catching and cleaning of the fish. Even after the fish has died, the venom in the spines remains active for up to one hour.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They ARE yummy.. but not half as as nice as the lobsters my matie and I got while diving last weekend.