Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lionfish - Sous Vide

Lionfish are conspicuously colored fish with red, white, creamy and black bands, showy pectoral fins and spiky, venomous fin rays. I've always loved seeing them in aquariums, but never dreamed I would have an opportunity to eat one. Anshu Pathak at Exotic Meat Market made it available and I couldn't resist. They have relatively recently become an invasive species off the southeastern U.S. Coast and Caribbean and I assume that is where this lionfish came from. 
Beautiful red and orange lionfish.
It is very similar to the scorpion fish I tried in September, but it is smaller and much easier to prepare. It was already gutted, but I had to remove the spiky fins, head and tail. Knowing that the spines are poisonous and not knowing whether a prick of a spine would cause any problem, I carefully tried to avoid pricking myself with the spines. The spines are much longer than the spines on the scorpion fish, but they are not as thick and they are much more easily removed with kitchen shears. The heads of both fish are similar, but the hard plating and spikes on the head of the scorpion fish are much stronger and more pronounced. 
Beautiful red on white markings underneath the throat and on the belly.
Head severed from the torso in the cleaning process.
The meat of the lionfish, which is very white, is more delicate than the scorpion fish and not as thick. The result is that it is much more bony and consequently a little more difficult to eat. 
Filets: one side with the skin and the other from the inside.
Because it is a mild white meat, I decided to go with a spicy preparation. I did that with the scorpion fish and really loved it. I spread some butter on the filets, then slathered on some goulash cream hot paprika mix csipos, a hot pepper paste made in Hungary, a small amount of ground fresh chili with garlic and a number of spoonfuls of Herdez salsa casera, a spicy tomato salsa. I vacuum sealed the filets with the added ingredients and then put them in a sous vide for 40 minutes at 53 centigrade. 
The spicy ingredients behind the vacuum sealed pouch with the filets.
The lionfish filets are delicate, very mild and worked excellently with the spicy ingredients. 
The finished product. The ingredients made a nice broth for the fish.
In comparison with the scorpion fish, it is prettier, seems more exotic, and is easier to clean. However, it has much less meat and I preferred the flavor and texture of the scorpion fish which was much like lobster. 


  1. Very tasty. I loved the spice + mild fish combo. Too bad there wasn't more of it.