Craving fresh seafood for dinner? Consider passing up a salmon fillet and opting for lionfish instead.
Whole Foods Market announced it will now be selling the non-native fish species in its 26 Florida stores to help reduce the number of lionfish in the wild.
Also called zebrafish for their characteristic stripes, lionfish aren’t something you’d expect to find at a local grocery store—and they shouldn’t be found off our local shores, either.
The invasive species is native to the waters of the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. The venomous sea creatures have spiky fin rays that make them among the top predators in coral reefs. As NOAA’s National Ocean Service puts it: “Lionfish consume over 50 species of fish, including some economically and ecologically important species.”
Catching and eating lionfish found in the Atlantic and Caribbean can help reduce their environmental threat. That’s why lionfish cooking demos and dinners have become a popular initiative among South Florida chefs.
Florida is the first region where Whole Foods will be offering the fish. Now through Tuesday, May 31, whole lionfish will be sold for an introductory price of $9.99 per pound.
“In an effort to educate the public on the importance of lionfish removal, promotions such as this will encourage continued involvement in proactively and successfully removing lionfish from coastal waters,” David Ventura, Whole Foods’ seafood coordinator for the Florida region, said in a press release.
When filleted properly, lionfish offer buttery, white meat ideal for all sorts of preparations, from ceviche to a pan sauté.
Whole Foods staff will be trained on lionfish preparation, including the removal of their venomous spines. They can also help shoppers with recipe tips and menu planning.
Whole Foods Market; 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens, Palm Beach Gardens
(Lead image via Flickr/Anita Gaisel and above image via Facebook/Whole Foods Market Palm Beach Gardens)