Lionfish are skilled predators that are wreaking havoc on the marine ecosystem.
They’re beautiful. They’re dangerous. They’re delicious.
The population of local lionfish has spiked in the past few years. A popular aquarium fish, owners often get bored and release them into the waters. Females can lay up to two million eggs per year, causing this fish to take over Sarasota marine life.
While lionfish may never be 100% eradicated, Mote Marine and REEF are doing all they can to help with the issue. Each year, they host a Lionfish Derby, sending divers out to harvest as many lionfish as possible. This year, the divers brought in a record 1,079. (For reference, last year they brought in 429.)
Last year’s event featured a cooking component for the first time. Chef Steve approached the organizers in 2015 about bringing together local restaurants to provide samples to attendees. It was a huge success.
“We started bringing lionfish into the restaurant about three years ago. We like the versatility of it and everything we could do with it. We started preparing it in a very simple manner, slicing it thin, eating it raw, tartar style, ceviches. It’s such a white, white meat that we’re able to use it in some different forms,” Phelps said.
Five restaurants cooked up inventive dishes that incorporated lionfish in an effort to educate the public, not only on the importance of eradicating this invasive species, but also to spread a love for its taste. A dish you can truly feel good about enjoying. Delicious and sustainable. Win-win.
Indigenous was proud to take home the People’s Choice Award this year! Chef Steve’s lionfish served on garlic toast was a hit.
The Lionfish Derby is a great event, and we’re proud to be a part of it. Together, we can make a difference. It is vital that we work toward creating a fishery for lionfish, whether through traps or other inventive techniques, to chip away at this harmful population, create jobs for coastal communities and better our economy.
We’re proud to serve sustainable seafood at Indigenous. Click here to check out our new menu.