Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eat a Snakehead, Save the Bay

WASHINGTON - Snakehead fish and other invasive species were on the menu Monday night at a sold-out charity dinner in Georgetown.

"Not really pleasing to look at, but once you get past that, you're in for a very good meal," is how Redskins legend John Riggins describes snakehead. Riggins served as a special guest at the "Snakeheads At The Harbour!" event at Tony and Joe's Seafood Place.  "I'm here because we have to - I don't want to say eradicate - the snakehead belongs someplace on this planet, just not in the Chesapeake Bay," said Riggins who hosts a show on the Sportsman Channel called "Riggo on the Range."

John Rorapaugh is with seafood supplier Profish that put on the event. He says the whole idea is to get more snakeheads on people's plates. "It's an invasive that everybody agrees on. We want it out of our ecosystem. It's top of the food chain," he says...

"Everything that it eats is living. It attacks. We've found everything from turtles to birds to every type of fish in their ecosystem in their bellies," he says.
But not everything about the snakehead is bad:
"It's a very clean taste. It has the taste of a saltwater fish, not a freshwater at all. That's what's so appealing about the fish," says Rorapaugh.

The dinner featured a five-course meal, with each course prepared by a different chef.

"I'm doing kind of a Mexican style snakehead. I skewered it and marinated it in chimichurri and then I made some avocado tomatillo sauce and cactus relish," said Chad Wells, executive chef at The Rockfish in Annapolis. Wells says he's been experimenting with snakehead for about three yeas, and has cooked it many ways. "I've made everything from po' boys to just like fried snakehead nuggets, grilled snakehead. We've made it like sushi. We've smoked it," he says.

Other offerings included Applewood Smoked Invasive Blue Catfish, Bush River Maryland Yellow Perch, Chilled Choptank Sweet Oyster and Spanish Mackerel Crudo.
I just signed up for a Snakehead charter trip to  Matawoman Creek later this summer with Capt. Mike.  Maybe I'll be able to report on how Snakeheads cook up and taste after that.

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