There Ain't No Way to Hide Your Lion Eyes – LionFish with Bourbon Chipotle Sauce

Lionfish have become a predatory blight in the warm waters of the Gulf and Caribbean, an invasive species that has been hard to remove.  But apparently they are easy to catch, and good to eat.  Lionfish is a white flaky fish, firmer in texture than halibut – and not poisonous to eat (only the spines contain the venom, and they can be removed at the market).

While we’ve seen this on a number of menus recently, we have not tried our hand at cooking this monster.  On a recent visit to our local Whole Foods Market (they are promoting it), we picked up two handsome specimens.  We wanted a bold approach to this fish that needs to be consumed (an act that is both delicious and good for the environment – what a win-win!).

Just in case you need it, we found a nice resource on cleaning & preparing lionfish – click HERE.

This recipe requires forming parchment paper envelopes, which is a great way to steam fish with only a bit of liquid.  The Bon Appetit website has a great how-to article – click HEREor you can go to this handy video:

LionFish with Bourbon Chipotle Sauce
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Serves: Serves 4
 
We are using whole fish for this recipe, but this works well with fillets. Just remember to lower the cooking time of the fish.
Ingredients
  • 2 medium sized lionfish
  • 1 medium orange, sliced into wedges
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup tangerine juice (you can use orange juice)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parchment paper
Instructions
  1. Thoroughly clean the fish, remove the barbs with culinary scissors, and pat dry (make sure that the fish has been completely gutted). Preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. Salt and pepper the inside and outside of the fish. Place orange slices into the cavity of the fish.
  3. Prepare the parchment paper envelops, placing each fish into its own envelop. Before closing, add ⅛ cup chicken stock and ⅛ cup dry white wine to each - then close.
  4. Place the fish in a baking dish, and place into the oven (about 30 minutes for whole fish; about 12 minutes for fillets).
  5. In the meantime, prepare the sauce (which can also be made ahead of time). Fry the bacon until crispy; remove the fat except for about 1 tablespoon (enough to coat the pan).
  6. Add the shallots, and saute for 2 minutes. Add the bourbon, and let simmer until reduce by one half. Add the honey, ¼ cup chicken stock, ¼ cup tangerine juice, and the chipotle, and simmer until reduced to a syrup consistency. Swirl in the butter.
  7. Remove the fish from the parchment (Carefully! The steam inside can be dangerous!). You can either serve the fish whole with the sauce, or fillet the fish at the table then add the sauce.