Chef Chad Wells of Alewife restaurant tossed chunks of raw snakehead fish with cilantro and citrus to make something more ambitious than an $8 ceviche appetizer. It was an invasive-species eradication plan in a martini glass.
Wells wants the Asian interloper, which has settled with alarming ease into Chesapeake-area rivers, streams and perhaps the bay itself, to find a new home on restaurant menus. The chef is confident that once diners get a taste of snakehead, they can be counted on to do what they've always done with toothsome fish: wipe them out.
"We've proved time and again, the best way to destroy something is get humans involved," Wells said.
Right now, the people most bent on reeling in snakeheads are chefs, who think serving invasive species could represent an important new twist on the sustainable seafood movement. Some of the biggest names in regional restaurants — "Top Chef" rivals Bryan Voltaggioand Mike Isabella, Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen, Scott Drewno of Washington's The Source by Wolfgang Puck— are trying to get their hands on the fish so they can slice, dice and pan sear the thing into oblivion.
"We've been doing the complete opposite and focusing on conserving species," said Voltaggio, owner of Volt restaurant in Frederick. "Here's a fish you can feel good about depleting."
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