Surprisingly Good Dinner Ideas: Recipes for Cooking Invasive Fish Species

Surprisingly Good Dinner Ideas: Recipes for Cooking Invasive Fish Species

Enjoy these easy invasive fish recipes below. Each serves 4. 

Invasive fish species are threatening our fresh and saltwater fisheries and reefs. But did you know they are all delicious to eat? Humans can save our fisheries by asking for and eating these delicious fish. Here are some invasive fish and recipes you can use while you entertain.


Originating in Asia, snakehead is a tough, hardy fish, lacking natural predators. Discovered in the U.S. in 2002, they eat fish, frogs, crustaceans, and insects, causing significant disruptions to native ecosystems. Snakeheads breathe air and can live out of water for up to four days. The damage they’ve done is extensive and, since 2002, it is illegal to possess a live snakehead. While not pretty, snakehead is a delicious fish with a slightly firmer texture than tilapia.


Lionfish hail from the Pacific and Indian Oceans and have made their way into the warm waters of the western Atlantic and Caribbean fisheries and dive sites. They are voracious eaters that wreak havoc on endangered ecosystems, threatening fish species such as snapper, grouper, and sea bass. However, lionfish tastes similar to the fish they threaten! Ask for lionfish at restaurants, fish markets, and groceries in Florida and the islands.

 Warning: Lionfish’s long fins have venomous spikes that while rarely deadly, may cause symptoms such as cramps, pain, swelling, racing heart, and fainting. If you catch a lionfish, carefully cut the fins/spikes off with fillet knife or kitchen shears, then fillet the fish—the flesh of lionfish is perfectly safe to eat. 

Blue Catfish

First introduced to the James River in Virginia in the 1970s for sportfishing, blue catfish quickly began migrating to and reproducing in the Chesapeake Bay. Blue crabs and striped bass are their favorite foods, thus most affected. Blue catfish are abundant and taste much like striped bass. 

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Breaded Baked Fish

4-6 Tbsp. oil

2/3 cup cornmeal

¼ cup flour

1½ tsp. seasoned salt

½ tsp. each black pepper, cayenne pepper, and paprika

2 eggs

2 tsp. hot sauce

4 6-8 oz. fish fillets 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a pan with foil and brush with 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Mix cornmeal, flour, salt, peppers, and paprika on a plate. In a bowl, combine eggs and hot sauce. Dredge each fillet in cornmeal mixture, then dip in egg, then dredge again in cornmeal mixture. Place fillets on the oiled pan and drizzle with additional oil. Bake 10-15 minutes until browned and just cooked. Remove fish and serve.  

Grilled Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

4 6-oz. fillets

1 Tbsp. taco seasoning (or see recipe below)

8 corn tortillas 

½ cup lettuce, shredded 

Mango salsa (see recipe below)

Hot sauce 

Set grill to medium-high. Sprinkle the fillets with taco seasoning. Grill fish 2-3 minutes per side, until just cooked. Warm tortillas on the grill for 1 minute per side. Serve fish and tortillas with lettuce, salsa, and hot sauce.

Taco Seasoning 

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. each ground cumin and garlic powder

½ tsp. each paprika, oregano, and salt

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Mix and store in sealed container. 

Mango Salsa

1½ cups mango, diced

1 cup sweet pepper, chopped

½ cup onion, chopped

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 hot pepper, minced

¼ cup lime juice

⅛ to ¼ tsp. salt

Combine ingredients and serve. 

-by Lori Ross

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