Chef Michelle Bernstein filleted and prepared lionfish for the cameras of Good Morning America as part of a segment, which airs
tomorrow Wednesday, about the spread of the invasive species in Florida water.
Lionfish is a colorful predatory fish, native to Indo-Pacific waters, that has been spreading in the Caribbean and the southeastern United States. It reproduces quickly and feeds on native fish, posing a threat to native marine life and competing with indigenous predators. Eating it is one way to curb its threat, but handling the fish is no easy feat. Just ask Bernstein.
She had never worked with the fish and was surprised when producers brought it to her whole and alive.
"It was still breathing, it was still moving, and I was terrified," she said. "It kinda looks like a porcupine with these really sharp edges. It was really freaky, but it's a beautiful fish to look at."
Lionfish have venomous glands and shouldn't be handled with bare hands. Bernstein said she threw the fish on ice to stun it before filleting it, fearful of getting her hand poked by its sharp edges. Then she sautéed it with mango and fish sauce.
"As soon as I put it in the sauté pan, it started seizing up and it looked like it was going to be really stiff, but it was unbelievable -- tender and delicate like a sole. I was superimpressed with it. I had heard it was like grouper, but it's a lot more flaky."
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Now that she's tasted it, Bernstein says she wants more and would add it to her menu if she knew a fisherman who could readily get it and clean it for her.
Don't miss her
tomorrow Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. on Good Morning America.