Seafood Shack Serving Invasive Pacu Featured in Herald Tribune

By: Wade Tatangelo | Ticket Sarasota | Published on: August 20, 2015

The piranha’s larger cousin, the pacu, has been caught as close as Phillippi Creek in Sarasota County. It’s a freshwater fish with human-like teeth from the Amazon River in South America. The non-native species enter local waters after they have eaten other fish in an aquarium and are tossed out by their owner. They continue their predatory ways outside the tank.

The toothy, gray and pink-bellied fish is bad for the environment but edible. In fact, one of the area’s most famous seafood restaurants, The Seafood Shack in Cortez, has added pacu to its menu.

“Their belly is fat and round like a pompano, and it cooks really well,” says Chef Gerard Jesse. “It’s a moist, succulent fish.”

Seafood Shack is serving pacu ribs as an appetizer.

“The marinade and also the sauce we use in this dish are actually pretty spicy, but because the of the high fat content in the pacu, it actually cuts some of the heat out,” Jesse says.

At The Shack, the belly meat is marinated in a house-made green chimichurri sauce of olive oil, lemon parsley, garlic and green onions.

The sauce is made with sweet chile sauce,  adobo sauce, fresh-juiced orange, lime and lemon, and cilantro, the flavor of “fresh,” says Jesse.