The Department of Environment has lifted restrictions on cooking and eating lionfish, so for the first time a legally cooked lionfish could be on your dinner plate.
Lionfish are venomous and should be handled with extreme care, so be careful not to jab yourself with their fins or spikes while preparing it.
Bahamanians have been catching and cooking the invasive species since they started showing up on their reefs, and now it’s Cayman’s turn. Until recently, all lionfish captured had to be handed in to the Department of Environment so staff could do DNA tests on the bodies.
But so many are being caught, and people were eating them anyway, that the department now only requires individuals who catch lionfish to give information on where they caught it and its measurements.
Anthony Pizzarello, executive chef at the Little Cayman Beach Resort shares some of his lionfish recipes with the Observer on Sunday.
“All of the following recipes call for skinless boneless lionfish fillets. Great care, caution, and the use of heavy gloves whilst cleaning and filleting the fish are highly recommended,” Chef Pizzarello said.
The recipes listed below are meant to serve four people:
Ginger-tempura lionfish with wasabi-chili tartar sauce and sweet soy
4 6oz-lionfish fillets, cut into three pieces.
Ginger tempura batter
Wasabi~chili tartar sauce
1 quart canola oil heated to 350°F
Lightly pat the fillets dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, stick a toothpick in each fillet, and working in batches of three at a time, dip the fillets in the tempura batter and fry in the canola oil until golden. Keep them warm in a low oven.
To plate, arrange three fillets in the centre of each plate, place three dollops of the tartar sauce around the fillets, drizzle with the sweet soy and serve immediately.
To make the sweet soy, place all of the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot. Cook over low heat, whisking occasionally until the soy has reached a syrup consistency. Strain out the shallots and cool to room temperature.
To make the wasabi-chili tartar sauce, whisk all ingredients together and chill for at least one hour.
To make the tempura batter, sift the flour, cornstarch and baking powder together. Whisk in the ginger ale with the lime juice, ginger and cilantro until you have a thick batter. Fold in the egg whites and season to taste with the salt. Use immediately and keep the batter cold on top of an ice water bath.
2 cup soy sauce
1lb brown sugar
1/2 cup shallots, roughly chopped
Ginger Tempura Batter
½lb rice flour
½ tbsp baking powder
As needed, ginger ale
1 ½ tbsp ginger, minced
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
½ cup fresh lime juice
4 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
To taste, kosher salt
Wasabi~Chili Tartar Sauce
1 cup sweet pickle relish
2 cups mayonnaise
¼ cup prepared wasabi
½ tbsp kosher salt
1 ½ tbsp yellow mustard
½ tbsp paprika, toasted
1 tbsp chili powder, toasted
1 tbsp rice vinegar
Corn-dusted lionfish BLT wrap with chipotle mayonnaise, petite spinach salad and sherry-honey lime vinaigrette
4 lionfish fillets, 6-8ounces each, split lengthwise
3 eggs, lightly beaten with a ½ cup whole milk
8 apple-smoked bacon slices, cooked crispy, fat reserved
½ cup vegetable oil
2 ripe plum tomatoes, split lengthwise and sliced ¼in thick
1 red onion, julienned
1 head of romaine, cleaned, dried and roughly chopped
4 10-inch flour tortilla wraps, or any wrap of your choice
1lb baby spinach, trimmed, washed and dried
In a sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil and bacon fat over moderate heat. Dry the fillets with paper towels, dip them in the egg/milk mixture and then coat with the corn dust. Sauté until golden brown, set aside on paper towels.
To make the wraps, warm the tortillas on a grill, over an open flame or in the microwave. On the lower third of the tortilla, spread the chipotle mayonnaise, (as much as you desire), place two fillets on the mayonnaise, top with two slices of bacon, the tomatoes, lettuce and wrap tightly.
In a bowl, lightly toss the spinach with the vinaigrette, season to taste with salt and black pepper.
To plate, place the spinach salad in the centre of the plate, cut each wrap on a bias and lean the two pieces on the salad. Enjoy!
Sherry honey lime vinaigrette
4oz sherry vinegar
Juice of 3 limes
Zest of 1 lime
2oz canola oil
1tspb roasted shallots, minced
To taste, salt & fresh ground black pepper
3 oz fresh lime juice
7ounce can chipotle chilies in adobo
1 quart mayonnaise
2 ½ tsp kosher salt
1tsp fresh ground black pepper
To make the chipotle mayonnaise, blend the lime juice and chipotles in a blender. In a bowl, whisk the chipotle puree into remaining ingredients, chill for at least one day so that the flavors can develop.
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp kosher salt
Caribbean tamarind glazed lionfish with tropical fruit chutney and smoked paprika basmati rice
With this recipe, you will have leftover tropical fruit chutney and tamarind glaze. Both of these go well with most proteins.
4 lion fish fillets, 6-8 ounce each
To taste, salt & black pepper
Tropical fruit chutney
Smoked paprika basmati rice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the fillets with salt and pepper, brush liberally with the tamarind glaze and bake until just done, (about 4-6 minutes). Meanwhile, divide the rice onto four plates, placing it at 11 o’clock. Remove the fish, glaze it once again, lean each fillet against the rice and spoon about ¾ cup of the chutney over the lower portion of the fish, serve immediately.
1lb tamarind puree
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup ginger, minced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
½ cup shallots, minced
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cups sake
To make the glaze, add all ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepot over low heat. Slowly reduce until it has the consistency of syrup. Cool to room temperature and use or store in the fridge. The glaze can be frozen.
Tropical Fruit Chutney
4 cups assorted tropical fruit, medium diced
1 cup apples, peeled, medium diced in acidulated water
1 cup yellow onions, medium diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp curry powder
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp allspice
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp Chinese five spice
2 tsp coriander
1 tbsp cardamom
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp paprika
2 cups apple juice
1½ cups pineapple juice
3oz rice vinegar
As needed, cornstarch and water mixed to the consistency of heavy cream
Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat with the salt until cooked but not coloured.
Add all of the spices and toast them, add the apple juice, pineapple juice, vinegar mirin and honey and bring to a boil.
Thicken with the whitewash to the consistency of jelly.
Let cool to room temperature, drain and add the apples and tropical fruit.
Smoked Paprika Basmati Rice
2 tbsp, unsalted butter
½ cup yellow onion, small dice
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
To make the rice, heat a 4 quart pot over medium – high heat and melt the butter. Sauté the onions and garlic until cooked but not coloured. Add the paprika, rice and sauté until lightly toasted. Add the chicken stock, cover, bring up to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.