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Invasive Species Infest D.C. Restaurant Menus

Can they actually taste good?

M.J. Gimbar at BlackSalt
M.J. Gimbar at BlackSalt
Scott Suchman/Official

Eating something tasty to help the environment is a win-win. With "invasive" in the name, perhaps these fish and other critters just need a new marketing strategy. Few restaurants in D.C. are plating up invasive species right now, but this is just the beginning. Here’s what to know:

WHAT ARE INVASIVE SPECIES?

Simply put, invasive species are non-native plants, animals and other organisms that often have no natural predators. That means they're likely to cause undesirable effects to the existing environment.

"First, it helps alleviate the intruders from the environment, giving other natural inhabitants the chance to survive. Second, when people are dining on invasive species, they are taking pressure off of other commercially sought-after species," explains M.J. Gimbar, the fishmonger and seafood expert for the Black Restaurant Group, which includes BlackSalt, Pearl Dive, and Republic. "We as consumers have a special opportunity with species like wild blue catfish, snakehead, and lion fish, to help eradicate them while in the process, protecting our environment.  It's a chance for us as humans to positively affect our surroundings through consumption.  A rare opportunity indeed."

WHICH TO EAT?

"Though not all invasive species are edible, thankfully some are. As an added bonus, some like the blue catfish, are actually quite delicious," continues Gimbar about this fish invasive to the Chesapeake Bay. Look for lion fish and snakehead on menus, but the price is considerably higher for these fish, which are difficult to catch. "Lion fish are usually spear caught and snakehead are usually shot with a bow and arrow, one at a time doesn't put too many on a plate."

WHERE TO TRY?

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace: offers a Beat the Blues special this summer. Overeating helps the environment through their "All you can eat fried blue catfish" special including a side and a beer for $23 per person.

Mango Tree: The first D.C. outpost of this Bangkok-based chain offers yum pla dook foo, a crispy catfish salad with spicy green mango and toasted cashews all the time for $14 in City Center.

Pop's SeaBar: Choose fried, simple, or deviled blue catfish, as platter or sandwich with two sides ($13.50) at the Adams Morgan boardwalk-inspired casual fish joint.

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