The lionfish, originally only found in Asian waters, has migrated or been accidentally introduced to the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It threatens the delicate equilibrium of our waters and reefs, as it reproduces quickly and is a voracious predator of many of our fish species, including small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. They can reach 38 cm (15 in.) and weight of 1200 g (2.6 lbs.). They have red, brown and white vertical stripes, and blend in well with underwater flora. Their spines are venomous.
This carnivorous invader to our waters poses a great threat to our biodiversity and to the fishing and tourism economies. But the good news is…they are edible, healthy, and delicious! So if you see lionfish / pez león on the menu, although not common yet in Yucatán restaurants, order it…you’ll be helping our fishing industry survive. (Needless to say, care must be taken when handling this fish, as the spines continue to be venomous for some time after the fish dies. Thick gloves must be worn to cut off the spines, which must be done prior to cooking.)
The lionfish may be prepared in fish cocktails and ceviches, grilled, shishkebab, with coconut, a la Veracruzana, with garlic, or any way you like!