American Oceans

Can You Eat Lionfish and How Does It Taste?

Depending on who you ask, the lionfish is a scourge or a boon. In the western hemisphere, the lionfish is an invasive species that wreaks havoc on any ecosystem it encounters. 

But can you eat lionfish?

can you eat lionfish

Yes, you can. When they wind up on the dinner plate, they are not only delicious, but they’re also good for you.

Lionfish are native to the South Pacific. They have spread far from that small locale and threaten coral reefs and other ecosystems worldwide, though. Eating them is good for the environment.

Do People Eat Lionfish and Is It Safe?

People all over the world eat lionfish. In island nations like those in the Caribbean, lionfish has become a popular dish.

Lion Fish in the Red Sea

If not for another reason, the coral reefs and surrounding ocean life need to have these invasive fish removed. If you’re going to take fish out of the ocean, you might as well eat them, right? 

While the lionfish is a venomous predator, once its poison spines are removed, it’s safe to eat. And it’s healthy food. High in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates.

And it’s high in Omega 3 fatty acids— something your body needs to help with cell growth and hormone manufacturing. Omega 3 acids can also lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

What Does It Taste Like?

lionfish with potatoes and vegetable

“Buttery” comes to mind when talking about this fish. The meat is white and flaky, and people often compare it to mahi mahi.

There’s very little “fishy” taste to it, and the meat itself is very tender, lending it to playing a fine role in ceviche or sashimi.

Can You Eat Lionfish Raw?

While lionfish sushi isn’t the most common menu item you’ll ever find, the meat is perfectly safe to eat raw. It’s safer than other meats we readily down at the sushi bar, to be sure. 

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are being prepared for dinner

Tuna is a trendy sushi fish and usually contains higher-than-average mercury levels. It has high enough mercury levels that pregnant women are discouraged from eating it

Still, we love our tuna rolls and tuna sashimi. Lionfish, being lower in mercury and higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, is objectively a safer fish to eat.  

How To Cook Lionfish

One of the most common lionfish prep methods is in a pan. Add some herbs and olive oil, put it over some heat, and cook for just a few minutes. You’ll have a delicious lionfish fillet. 

You can also grill it, bake it, or fry it. This is a fish that interacts well with garlic and with citrus, hence the aforementioned ceviche. 

Lionfish Recipes

The only limit is what you can think to do with this versatile, delicious fish.

Is It Safe to Eat Lionfish?

Can you eat lionfish? If your lionfish has been properly cleaned, it is perfectly safe to eat. If you’re bringing the lionfish out of the ocean yourself, consult a professional if you’re unfamiliar with cleaning it.

After all, it is a venomous fish. But if you’re buying lionfish fillets, they’re safe and better for you than many other fish.

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