Cooking the invasive lionfish: Blackened Lionfish with Dill Sour Cream

Lionfish are an invasive species in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Atlantic coast of the US and in the Mediterannean – basically, anywhere that lionfish can be found outside of the Indo-Pacific. Their invasion poses huge problems for reef fish populations, since lionfish can eat basically any fish that is smaller than it. To combat this issue, local governments in the US are promoting the fishing (via spearfishing) of lionfish as well as the fish’s consumption.

The good news is that lionfish is a delicious, versatile and cheap fish! So it makes a great option to turn to when cooking. The main thing to watch out for when cooking lionfish is to make sure you cut off the spines right so that you don’t get poked and suffer the consequences of the lionfish’s painful venom! To prevent any unpleasant surprises, make sure you have a unit of StingMaster handy so that if you do get poked, you can slap on some StingMaster and keep cooking like nothing ever happened. 

To promote the cooking and eating of lionfish, we will be posting one recipe a week on our blog page to give ideas to our community as to what you can do with lionfish once you catch them! If you have a favourite recipe, be sure to send it to so we can feature you and your recipe!

Here is a delicious and flavourful recipe by Chef Anthony Chalas of La Sirena Restaurant and Bar in Mexico ( from the Salsa & Sun blog. This spicy and well seasoned lionfish recipe is lightened up with a lovely dilled sour cream, guaranteeing a delicious and well-balanced lunch or dinner!


4 lionfish filets

2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 tablespoons paprika

3 tablespoons cayenne

3 tablespoons oregano

3 tablespoons thyme

3 tablespoons garlic powder

3 tablespoons onion powder

3 tablespoons white pepper

3 tablespoons black pepper

1 cup sour cream

½ bunch of dill, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Squeeze of lime

  1. Begin by making the dilled sour cream: Mix sour cream, dill, chopped garlic, worcestershire sauce and squeeze of lime together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours to let the flavours blend together.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F or 170C
  3. Mix the 3 tablespoons of each paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper and black pepper together and lay it out in a large plate.
  4. Gently coat both sides of the lionfish filets with this seasoning mixture.
  5. Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe pan until oil is very hot and shimmering at the surface.
  6. Place filets in a hot pan with the rounded side of the filet face down. Allow to cook 2-3 minutes until blackened on that side. Flip filets in pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes to blacken on the other side.
  7. Move pan to the preheated oven and allow to bake for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through.
  8. Plate the lionfish and top with a dollop of the dilled sour cream and serve with rice and/or your favourite vegetables!

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