Eating a Lionfish

Caribbean restaurants that put lionfish on the menu

 

Lionfish are a non-native species that have appeared on reefs across the Caribbean. With their bright colors and intricate fan-like dorsal spines, they are striking to watch when diving or snorkeling. Just don’t touch, because those spines are venomous, which makes lionfish impervious to almost all predators. Except for humans. To combat the spread of these invasive intruders, chefs all across the region have come up with creative ways to transform a pest into a delicious meal. Here are just some of the ways that lionfish can be enjoyed.

Grilled Thrill

Remove the lionfish’s stinging spines and you have a tasty, white meat fish that does well in the pan or on the grill. This fact isn’t lost on the chefs at Dad’s Bar & Grill on Anguilla, who top whole grilled fillets with a light caper cream sauce that accentuates the subtle flavors of the fish. The beachfront setting encourages you to linger over lunch, while evenings are made for dancing barefoot in the sand to live reggae music.

Time for a Taco

On the quiet island of Little Cayman, the place to be at the end of the day is the Hungry Iguana. This beachfront tavern serves up crispy battered slivers of lionfish that can be dipped in the kitchen’s signature jerk spiced mayonnaise, or dropped into a tortilla to create some of the tastiest fish tacos in the Caribbean. For an authentic taste of the islands, pair your fish with one of the bar’s signature rum-based libations, and finish off with a slice of Tortuga Rum Cake.

Get Creative

On Belize’s Ambergris Caye, there’s a place that does more than serve lionfish. The Pirates Treasure Restaurant and Bar transforms this invasive species into an enticing range of tasty appetizers and entrees. Favorites include fish chowder, lionfish cakes, crispy lionfish fingers and lionfish filets in a ginger and garlic sauce. The setting is as memorable as the meal, with hand-hewn tables set in an open-air, tin-roofed palapa, and a stone oven.

Try it Raw

Technically, when you nosh on ceviche, you aren’t eating raw fish. The acids in the citrus-based marinade of this South American favorite transform raw seafood into delicious morsels. Various ceviche recipes call for shrimp, fish, and even octopus. At Aruba’s Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, lionfish becomes the star ingredient in a dish that includes lemon juice, avocado, shallots, tomato, virgin olive oil and herbs. It’s topped with fresh tortilla chips and served up as the chef’s favorite appetizer.

Bite into a Burger

Spend a day at the Havana Beach Club on the island of Roatan and you’ll enjoy beach time, horseback rides and a whole bunch of exciting water sports. When it’s lunchtime, head for the club’s onsite restaurant, Lionfish Louie’s, for a brew and a burger. Make that a lionfish burger. The house specialty has the chef kneading finely diced fillets into grill-ready patties, and then serves the tasty results on a soft bun.

Put it on a Pizza

Forget anchovies. At Bonaire’s Pasa Bon Pizza, the pies can be topped with morsels of fresh-caught lionfish. This roadside eatery claims to serve up the best American-style pizza on the island, and they certainly pile on the ingredients in a number of creative ways. For a flavor that’s unique to the island, order the lionfish pizza with jalapeños, black beans, salsa and guacamole.

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