The invasive Lionfish is increasingly problematic to Belize’s fisheries because, without any potential natural predators, they threaten the existence of our local native species. To tell you how serious it is, this beautiful yet deadly fish feeds primarily on juvenile fish. So to fight it, restaurants across Belize have started to include Lionfish on their menu. With its flaky white meat, lionfish are prepared in grilled dishes, tacos, ceviche, and even sushi! If you’re in Belize, here are some of the restaurants in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, depending on the availability, you can expect the problematic delicacy of lionfish.
The fight in Belize against the invasive lionfish started with Lionfish Derbies, which encouraged fishermen to head out and catch as many as they can in return for prizes. Feared for its venomous spines, eating it was seen as an initial option until curious chefs began researching how to prepare it safely, adding another option for their seafood dishes. Clip off its spines, fillet as usual, and enjoy!
Found in Secret Beach about 7 miles north of San Pedro Town, Pirate’s is known on Ambergris Caye for specializing in Lionfish dishes. Particularly, Chef Maresha Reid’s delicious lionfish tacos. She contributes to the conservation cause by cooking the deadly fish in garlic ginger butter and grilling over a woodfire. Other choices include lionfish in coconut curry and fish fingers.
In the heart of San Pedro on Middle Street, Caramba Restaurant also serves that assassin of the seas: Lionfish. Outside of the restaurant, there is usually a seafood display. Feel free to let the staff know how you want your Lionfish to be cooked.
Found on the backstreet right downtown, Angler’s Restaurant is another spot where you can order Lionfish on the menu in San Pedro, Belize. Just like Caramba, they too have a seafood display. You can let them know how you want the fish prepared or choose from their most popular options of grilled, fried, or blackened Lionfish.
While Lionfish has become a favorite choice, currently its availability is scarce and according to these restaurants, it is becoming difficult to obtain. This does not mean fewer Lionfish in Belizean waters, but fishers are seeking less of these fish.
At the same time, there needs to be a higher demand; this will encourage fishermen to hunt this predator which continues to cause a dent daily in the local fisheries. Whenever you come to the islands of Belize, (including private islands!), be sure to request lionfish! It is safely prepared and I can guarantee you that it’s very tasty. Let’s eat ’em all!