Maybe it was a zoo aquarium broken by Hurricane Andrew in the early 1990s, maybe it was a fed-up individual aquarium owner -- however it happened, the voracious lionfish entered Biscayne Bay. You know the story of non-native species by now: no natural predators, the invader reproduces quickly. Lionfish are edging out native species and threatening the reefs of the Caribbean.
And they have venomous spines, which makes them a formidable catch. But as it turns out, the Atlantic Food Channel reports that once the fish is de-spined, it's delicious.
Cookshop in New York and Northpond Restaurant in Chicago have both tested the fish, with good response.
So far, there isn't an organized lionfish industry in the States -- Cookshop and Northpond obtained the fish through Discovery Dive Center in North Carolina. There's an effort to increase demand in the Caribbean (including a recipe for cooking lionfish), and imagine how successful the eradiction could be if lionfish caught on in U.S. mainland restaurants.
Looks don't matter much when it tastes good. The fact that eating lionfish is good for the Caribbean is just tartar sauce on the fish sandwich. I'd eat a lionfish, in fact, I'd love to. Can Nashville fish lovers get past the spines and that face?