One of the best parts of living in South Florida, anywhere in Florida, is the easy access to fresh seafood. We have an amazing bounty of fish and shellfish readily available with many choices for sustainable and local, especially at markets like Whole Foods. In May, the 26 Whole Foods stores in Florida began carrying lionfish, a nonnative, invasive species that has a potential negative impact on indigenous species and habitat.
With the first sighting in Florida in 1985, lionfish continue to expand at astonishing speeds and are harming native coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. With capabilities of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering environments, the invasive species with a flowing mane of venomous spines is considered a predator in the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea.
Lionfish is versatile. From ceviche to a simple pan sauté, its white, buttery meat lends itself to any number of different recipes. With hopes of creating a demand for fishermen to scale their operations and catch more lionfish, Whole Foods Market® hopes to move the seafood industry toward greater sustainability, creating healthier ecosystems and reversing trends in overfishing and bycatch.
Whole lionfish is available at an affordable $9.99 per pound. The lionfish is being sold as the whole fish, but the wonderful Whole Foods team members in the seafood departments are happy to clean the fish and provide you with filets. They have been thoroughly trained in removing the venomous spine and making the fish safe for consumption. As a note, it took four pounds of lionfish to get 1 1/2 pounds of lionfish meat.
This was my first time cooking and eating lionfish. The meat is similar to cod, being a flaky white fish. I decided to pair it with some Caribbean flavors, creating a mango pineapple salsa that was a bright, flavorful complement to the lionfish. The volcano rice has become one of our favorites and was perfect with the lionfish and salsa, but you could use any grain. I used a pan to grill the lionfish which is definitely recommended due to the flakiness of the meat. If you are going to use a grill, make sure you have a fish pan handy.
Whole Foods is also providing a $50 gift card for readers of the Hungry Goddess, so make sure you enter for a chance to win! The giveaway is open to all of the United States, wherever you have a Whole Foods.
Are you ready to eat? ME TOO!
Ingredients (feeds 4):
- 1 1/2 pounds of lionfish
- 1 large ripe mango cut into small chunks
- 1 – 2 cups of chopped pineapple
- 1 pint of heirloom grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1/2 large red onion chopped
- 1 cup of chopped red/purple cabbage – I like it for the texture
- OPTIONAL for HEAT: 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper seeded and chopped finely (be VERY careful handling this pepper – I recommend using plastic gloves) – you can use less according to how much heat that you want to add or use your fave pepper for heat
- 2 gloves of garlic pressed/minced
- handful of Cilantro chopped
- juice of two limes
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- generous drizzle (about a quarter cup) of Grapeseed Oil for the salsa
- generous drizzle of Olive Oil and/or a pat of butter for the grill pan for the fish
MANGO PINEAPPLE SALSA (can be prepared hours ahead and refrigerated): Combine all salsa ingredients (not the fish) in a bowl. Drizzle the Grapeseed Oil and mix in. Allow to meld for approx 2 hours in the refrigerator.
RICE: Prepare as directed and to be timed to serve with the fish.
FISH: Brush each lionfish filet with Olive Oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grill on a medium hot grill (or medium hot grill pan) for approx 2-3 minutes each side or until done through the middle. Two minutes is all that is needed for smaller filets. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve on rice with generous scoops of salsa. ENJOY!
**I received compensation from Whole Foods for ingredients and this post which in no way affected my opinion.