Now available in the seafood department at select Wegmans Food Markets stores in six states is whole, fresh Lionfish, an unusual and delicious new offering from Florida that has a unique sustainability story.
Lionfish is a non-native species in the Gulf of Mexico that was likely released there from domestic fish tanks or aquariums. It has no natural predators and reproduces at lightning speed, resulting in rapid population growth that’s harming the natural ecosystem as Lionfish compete with native species for limited food resources and eat the smaller fish that keep coral reefs healthy. That’s where the seafood industry and retailers are stepping in to make a difference.
Lionfish are spear-caught by underwater divers like Alex Fogg, who catches most of the Lionfish sold at Wegmans. Wegmans partnered with Wild Fish Direct to bring Lionfish to market in the Northeast, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently issued a statewide hunting competition to help reduce the invasive population.
“We do our part to source seafood responsibly, and by introducing Lionfish in the markets we serve, we’re also helping control the population to protect the gulf reefs for the future,” said Mark Fromm, Wegmans seafood category merchant. “We love it when our customers are open to trying different kinds of fish. Lionfish are plentiful and tasty, but simply not as well known yet.”
Lionfish is a mild and delicate white fish similar in flavor and texture to Snapper. Its spines are carefully removed after harvest and the fish arrives at Wegmans fully cleaned, each weighing in at approximately one pound. Lionfish dishes are already making a splash in the culinary scene at upscale restaurants, and simple cooking techniques like pan-searing and grilling make it into a fantastic meal.
Customers interested in trying Lionfish can stop by the seafood department at select Wegmans stores Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19.