by Joey Stewart
TJ’s Seafood and Driftwood held Dallas’ first ever Lionfish Dinner on Monday night, treating guests to five courses paired with wines. This invasive species, which is native to the Indo-Pacific, has found its way to the southeast coast of the U.S., Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico.
TJ’s owner and seafood guru, Jon Alexis, started off the evening informing diners of the issues surrounding the fish. “Lionfish have no predators, can lay up to 40 thousand eggs every three days, and eat anything and everything they can fit into their mouths. However we can become its predators. By eating them!”
A single lionfish can reduce marine creatures by 80% to 90% in its range within 5 weeks.
In a genius move, Jon Alexis teamed up with Dallas’ culinary golden boy, Omar Flores, to design the dishes. It was a total success, showcasing the fish in four ways: Raw, Poached, Salt Baked, and Grilled. Every diner we encountered was “awed” by the flavors. The fish had a firm, flaky texture, with a taste similar to grouper and halibut. (A bonus is that they are high in Omega-3s and low in mercury.) Combine this with the vision of Flores, which has garnered Driftwood and Casa Rubia 4-star reviews in the Dallas Morning News, and one can see the potential for a new, wonderful fish on seafood menus everywhere.
The team hopes to create awareness in this matter, and encourage people to seek out and request Lionfish at restaurants around the U.S.
Below are images of the event, the five fabulous dishes, and descriptions of each:
First Course – Raw Cold Smoked – Aji Amarillo, Crispy Capers, Pinenuts, Pickled Mustard, and Pedro Ximenez Vinegar
Second Course – Poached – Vino verde broth, melted leeks, butter basted clams, potato confit, spicers carrots, caviar
Third Course – Salt Baked – Soft herbs, arbequina olive oil, crushed ruby red grapefruit
Fourth Course – Grilled – Charred fish bone dashi, toscano kale, Tokyo turnips, hoj shimeji, farm egg
Chef Omar Flores explains the dishes
Jon Alexis informs the crowd about the dangers of Lionfish