Friday, March 11, 2011

In the Keys, We Know How to Take Lemons and Make Lemonaide and Turn Lionfish into Chowder!

Lionfish...stunning to look at...a true marvel of nature's engineering, delicate and deadly.  But those little bastards are putting and incredible strain on our reefs!!!!

Native of the Pacific, Lionfish were introduced to our waters by owners who grew tired of them and released them, without regard to their potential damage to their new surroundings.  They are Venomous and Voracious!! And breed like rabbits on steroids, and with no natural predators, they are decimating our juvenile snapper, grouper and lobster fisheries.

But here in the Keys, we are, if nothing, resourceful. With a diet primarily of snapper, and grouper frye, some smart old salt figured that these guys would probably taste pretty good.  And WOW do they!  Very similar to Hogfish with a nice clean whitemeat, Lionfish are now finding their place on Keys menus.

Restaurants like The Fish House Encore, have put a bounty on them and are paying fishermen a nice reward for bringing them in.

The Fish House Encore restaurant in Key Largo began serving lionfish in February, as a $13.95 appetizer that's fried whole or a $23.99 entrée whose filets are cooked in a variety of ways. Kev's Café at Bud N' Mary's Marina in Islamorada has been serving lionfish chowder since November,

Laddie Akins, founder of Reef Environmental Education Foundation, has launched a campaign to encourage lionfish consumption. REEF and others believe that developing a commercial market for lionfish is the best way to curb its numbers.  He recently stated in an interview, "I think when the fishermen realize they can get paid for those lionfish," he said, "the supply is going to increase dramatically."

So if you are out on the water and run into these little demons, know that you are looking at the Key's newest tasty treat!

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