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How To Make Snakehead Fish With Mango-Avocado Salsa


Editor's note: In the hunt for what to do about the various mix of invasive species found in Florida, we are running a series that not only describes the problems caused by these plants and animals but, well, offers a culinary solution. Tweet us (@WLRN) your ideas and tips or email us a recipe: WLRNMIA@gmail.com.


Origin:  Africa and Asia

Problem: With no known predators in Florida, snakehead fish go to town gobbling up frogs, fish, aquatic bird and small mammals. They also can survive on land for days at a time, migrating a quarter-mile or more. And they reproduce like fiends. A single female snakehead can release up to 150,000 eggs in just two years.  

Solution: Snakehead is common in Vietnamese and Burmese cooking, often pickled or braised in aromatic liquids. Julie Frans, chef at Essensia Restaurant in Miami Beach's The Palms Hotel, rubbed snakehead filets with African adobo spices and served it alongside millet, a couscous-like grain, and a mango-avocado topping. The dish was a hit at a recent charity event that featured invasive species. Frans found that giving snakehead a deep sear on both sides was the best preparation. "I tried grilling it, braising it, cooking it down with coconut curry spices," she said. "But it's a pretty hardy fish and is hard to overcook. Using the African blackening spices and searing it in a pan gives it a nice, spicy flavor that is mellowed out by the mango and avocado topping."  

invasive fish mcb.JPG
Credit Marice Cohn Band/Miami Herald Staff
Chef Julie Frans of Essensia prepares snakehead fish for her guests.


8 snakehead fish filets

Adobo rub:

2 tablespoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric

1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons grated nutmeg

1 1/2 tablespoons ground allspice

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon paprika

2 tablespoons dried orange peel, chopped

2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

Mango-avocado salsa: 

1 mango, peeled and diced

1 avocado, diced and tossed with lime juice

1/2 bell pepper, diced

3 limes, juiced

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/4 cup olive oil

4 scallions, minced

1/3 cup mint leaves, chopped

Kosher salt


1. Mix together spices for adobo rub. Coat fish filets with rub. 

2. In a separate bowl, mix together ingredients for mango-avocado salsa. 

3. Sear fish on both sides in a hot, oiled skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Serve immediately, spooning mango-avocado salsa on top.

Tomorrow in the Invasive Species Cookbook: Wild Boar Tacos