Teen urges eating Lionfish

A 14-year-old student from Canada
who recently took part in a course at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute in
Little Cayman is urging people in Cayman to tackle the growing lionfish problem
with their stomachs.

Kenny Johnston, from Hillfield Strathallan
College in Ontario, took part in the insitute’s recent Leadership in
Environmental Sustainability course at the Little Cayman Research Centre.

“When I first came to the Cayman
Islands I was ready to see loads of fish while scuba diving. On the first dive
I saw the most beautiful fish in the world – lionfish,” Kenny said in a letter
that the institute has distributed.

After watching his dive master
capture the lionfish and place it in a bag, he researched the invasive species.

“They may look pretty, but they are
a very dangerous fish. The lionfish will inflict a poisonous and painful sting
if you are not careful and the pain can last for a couple of days,” he said.

In a bid to help reduce the number
of lionfish on Cayman’s reefs, Kenny is suggesting that Cayman’s diners begin
cooking and eating lionfish.

“I love the coral reefs, and the
lionfish are threatening all of that and I want to do something about it. I
have interviewed some of the researchers at the CCMI and have found out that
lionfish are a very delicious fish to eat.

“Right now, lionfish are top of the
food chain and nothing in the Caribbean eats these fish. If I could get the
people of the Cayman Islands to start eating lionfish, their population would
reduce,” he said.

With this in mind, the teen offers
the following recipes.

Black Beaned lionfish

Puree black beans, olive oil, salt,
pepper, and lime juice, then simmer in a saucepan. Simmer a combination of
olive oil, white wine, scallions, tomato and poblamo for a minute and add a lionfish
filet. Cook for five minutes. Strain sauce into black bean sauce and mix. Pour
the combo sauce on a plate and place the fish filet and simmered vegetables on
top. Garnish with cilantro.

South Pacific Grilled Lionfish

Briefly marinate lionfish filets in
calamnsi juice (or lime) and salt. Flash grill in hot pan with olive oil or
serve as ceviche. Make a dip by crushing three mild chile peppers in soy sauce
and calamansi juice (or lime). Serve with sticky rice, grilled vegetables and
mango chutney on the side. Eat with chop sticks. 


Lionfish pictured on a Cayman reef.
Photo: Kristi Feierstein.