In Like a Lion, Out Like a Fish!


Earlier this summer, the NC State University Seafood Laboratory and NC Sea Grant, in cooperation with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s marine laboratory in Beaufort, NC, conducted a sensory evaluation on lionfish harvested off the North Carolina central coast.

Lionfish and pink snapper (also caught locally) were prepared with the herb seasoning profiled above.

Twenty individuals, who enjoyed eating snapper and grouper and liked the flavor of butter, basil and butter, were selected as sensory panelists. Each was asked to rate and compare the flavor, texture, color and appearance of both fish on a numerical scale of 1 (Terrible) to 7 (Excellent). The scores were statistically analyzed to discern significant differences.

The results showed the color and appearance of the two fish did not differ significantly, but the averaged scores for flavor and texture did significantly differ. Panelists’ comments indicated that half preferred pink snapper because of its firmer texture, and as a result, were inclined to rate its flavor as being slightly better than lionfish. Fifteen percent preferred the lionfish and 35 percent of panelists had no preference. The overall scores of both fish scored in the range of “Good” (5.0 to 5.9) to “Very Good” (6 to 6.9), indicating most of the panelists found both species appealing. This information suggests that lionfish has commercial potential as a food source.

Contributed by Barry Nash

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