Lionfish: Eat Them to Beat Them

Lionfish ready to be cleaned and eaten!

Lionfish ready to be cleaned and eaten!

Lionfish Recipes

One of the hottest topics on Bonaire in recent years is the removal of as many invasive Pacific Lionfish as possible. Bonaire has a core group of about 30 very active hunters, removing hundreds of fish each and every week.

Because the fish are very tasty, they are becoming very popular to either cook or to dine upon in Bonaire’s restaurants. Even as fillets, the flaky texture cooks quickly, and one of the easiest ways to enjoy lionfish is to quickly saute each side of the fillet in a little olive oil or butter, with your favorite seasonings, or with optional garlic.

But there are so many other ways to enjoy this fish, and creativity will only lead to greater consumption and, therefore, a greater demand for Bonaire’s lionfish hunters to stay in the water making a dent in the resident lionfish population.

InfoBonaire wants your original and creative lionfish recipes to post on this page. If you have a great (original) recipe, send it to The test kitchens of InfoBonaire will happily try out your recipe, and the best ones will be published here for all to enjoy.

Thanks for participating!


Fillets of Lionfish in a Potato Crust

4 large potatos, 4 large fillets of lionfish, Italian herbs:  Cut the potatoes into thin slices.  Season the fillets with salt, pepper, and herbs, and wrap with the potato slices in parchment paper.  Refrigerate for 24 hours, and the next day open the packages and cook them in their potato crust.  Serves 4.  (Submitted by “An Italian Chef”)

Linguine with Lionfish Sauce

400 g linguine pasta, 1 large lionfish cleaned and filleted, 1 shallot, 2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil, 3 fresh ripe tomatoes, 3 tbsps. brandy, parsley, salt, pepper, and your favorite Italian herbs.

Saute the shallot and oil and fillets of lionfish in a pan.  Deglaze it with the brandy; add tomatoes cut into small pieces, and finish cooking the sauce by adding a ladle of pasta water from the cooked linguine.  Add salt, pepper, and herbs to taste.  Serve over cooked pasta.  Serves 4.  (Submitted by “An Italian Chef”)

Lionfish Florentine:

In a large saute pan (12″) heat olive oil and cook one large chopped onion until translucent Add a bag of baby spinach. Top with lionfish fillets, close together. Top with bruschetta or salsa (one jar or container). Add chopped Kalamata olives. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese. Cover and let cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the fish is flaky. Do not over cook. Submitted by Nadine Rubin

Test Kitchen’s Comment: Excellent! Fast, easy, nutritious, and delicious!

Lionfish Milanese:

Coat lionfish fillets with a breading seasoned with fresh herbs, salt and pepper. To make the breading, coat the fillets in flour, then dip in a beaten egg, and then coat again with breadcrumbs. In a large saute pan (12″) heat olive oil over medium heat and then quickly fry for a few minutes on each side. Hit with a quick squirt of fresh lemon juice, and serve. Submitted by Nina De Pietro

Test Kitchen’s Comment: Who doesn’t like fried fish? Always wonderful. Our kitchens also added a sweet chili sauce on top when serving.

Lionfish Three Ways:

With super fresh fish, I always think the easiest approach is the best. The less you do, the better. I am usually inclined to merely dust fillets with flour, salt and pepper and quickly sauté them and then serve with one of the following:

A traditional tartar sauce (with mayo, sour cream, capers, pickles, lemon juice, etc.)

A Grenobloise-type sauce (with browned butter, lemon “supremes”, capers, etc.)

A samoriglio sauce (Sicilian in origin, basically a dressing with uncooked oil, lemon juice, and oregano)

Submitted by Nina De Pietro

Test Kitchen’s Comment: Three quick and easy ways to serve lionfish.

Lionfish in an Italian Tomato Sauce:

Make a quick tomato sauce by sautéing diced tomatos with lots of capers, olives, fresh parsley, hot pepper flakes, and wine. Don’t forget the garlic! After this has simmered for the flavors to meld, add the lionfish and allow it to poach right in the sauce, and then serve immediately over angel hair pasta. Submitted by Nina De Pietro

Test Kitchen’s Comment: Another easy recipe for those with limited time.

Lionfish Risotto:

This is an excellent use of small- to medium-sized lionfish fillets, as the fish should be bite-sized. The key to a great risotto is the constant stirring for 22 minutes, so be sure to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go when you begin cooking.

You’ll need about 1 quart of stock, with a seafood stock being preferred, but any vegetable or chicken stock will do as well. If additional liquid is needed, you can always add water.

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 to 2 tbsps. olive oil. Add one large chopped onion or several chopped shallots, and sauté until translucent. Add in one cup arborio rice (risotto rice) and quickly sauté to coat the rice in the oil.

Set your timer for 22 minutes and then begin adding a ladle full of stock as needed to keep the rice from sticking. Be sure to begin stirring continuously at this point and adding stock as needed. When there are 10 minutes left, add any crisp vegetables, such as sweet or hot peppers, celery, etc. Add in your favorite seasonings, but at a minimum a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper. Continue to ladle in stock as needed and continue to stir.

Lionfish Risotto

Lionfish Risotto

When 5 minutes are left, add in any soft vegetables, such as mushrooms. It is also nice to add a tangy sweetness with some fruit–pomegranates or cranberries create a nice touch–and can be added at this time.

When 4 minutes are left, add in the lionfish. With 2 minutes remaining, add in any fresh herbs, such as mint or chopped chives. When the 22 minutes are complete, the rice should be fully cooked. At this point, sprinkle and stir in about 1 or 2 tsps. of balsamic vinegar (a fruit-infused balsamic is very nice with this dish). For a creamier risotto, also stir in about 1/4 cup of milk or cream and one or two tbsps. of fresh, finely grated parmesan. Turn off heat and let the risotto rest for five minutes.

Serve immediately (serves two to three persons) and garnish with additional fresh mint sprigs. Submitted by Susan Davis

Test Kitchen’s Comment: A great way to use small- to medium-sized fillets.