Rainforest Seafood Festival - Fish and more
The days of discriminating against the lionfish are over, as fishermen embrace the meaty mammal, instead of throwing them away.
Last Wednesday, at the start of Lent and the staging of the third Rainforest Seafood Festival, the lionfish was as sought after as any snapper, Jack, salmon or grouper.
Steamed, grilled, fried, escoveitched or roasted, fish was the most dominant seafood on show.
The Lion Fish prepared by the Montego Bay Marine Park was a favourite among patrons.- Janet Silvera.
"The lionfish is a cross between grouper and butterfish. It is very fleshy, absorbs seasoning exceptionally well, and because they are scavengers, they eat only live food, such other fish and lobster," Montego Bay's Marine Park's Hugh Shim tells Food.
With the sensitisation in the market, the lionfish is now being sold at $500 per pound.
As stewards of creating an environment that will serve this and the next generation, Shim said he was heartened that the fish, which is known as a predator, had found acceptance with Jamaican fish lovers.
The Marine Park booth was part educational, part restaurant, while next door the Little Ochie eatery received the most attention because of its delicious garlic lobster, tasty jerked corn and sweet escoveitched fish and festival.
In photo: Fried fish at the Little Ochi booth.-Janet Silvera.
The entire team seem to have been moved from Alligator Pond in St Elizabeth to the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex venue, as Little Ochie did not have hands to feed the hundreds whom flocked their booth.
"Their reputation precedes them, that's why we waited in a line to be served Little Ochie's food," said patron Petrina Rowe.
A few chains from Little Ochie, another iconic St Elizabeth spot - Middle Quarters Shrimp - was creating waves with their peppered, garlic and curried shrimp.
Their shrimp fritter was a hit with the crowd, and they, too, didn't have enough hands to serve the number of persons that converged on their booth.
In photo: Little Ochie's Richard Rowe jerking corn at their booth at the Rainforest Seafood Festival last Wednesday. -Janet Silvera.
At the Rainforest Seafood booth, fish burgers, lobster and salmon pasta, and the seafood soup had patrons going back for more. The fish burger was particularly very popular with children.
Aiming to raise $10 million this year for the Cornwall Regional Hospital, approximately 8,000 persons attended the seafood festival, which operates under the 'We Care' umbrella.