Champion lionfish hunter Gynna Sainz—also known as “the Lionfish Hunter”—lives in Akumal, a scenic town on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. She first spotted lionfish on the local reefs in 2009. Sainz, who is also a master diver and accomplished chef (talk about a triple threat!), formed a team to hunt the invasive species shortly thereafter, serving them as a delicacy in her small oceanfront restaurant. She later went on to win the Curacao Lionfish Hunt Challenge in 2013 and still keeps Akumal’s reefs free of lionfish today. “They learn if there are a lot of predators in an area, and they will move,” says Sainz. “So we hit it hard.”
“Chef Gynna” is known for her distinctive Thai-Mexican fusion style of cooking. After taking a Thai cooking workshop in Southeast Asia at age 19, she knew she’d found her calling. “I noticed that the ingredients are 80 percent the same in Mexico as in Thailand because we share the same latitude and climate, but the way they use their ingredients is completely different,” says Sainz. “Since we live on the Caribbean, we have fresh ginger, coconut milk, chilies, oranges—things that are perfect for curries.”
Davina van Buren, a freelance journalist specializing in travel, food and environmental reporting, tells us a whole lot more about Gynna Sainz in the June issue of OCEAN Style magazine. Gynna shares one of her Lionfish recipes with Ocean Splash. Make sure you dive in for more.
8 large lionfish fillets, cut into small cubes
3 roma tomatoes, cut into small cubes
1/2 white onion, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
In medium-sized mixing bowl, marinate raw fish in lime juice and salt for half an hour, until fish turns white.
Drain half the lime juice from marinated fish; add tomato, onion, cilantro and pepper. Mix and serve immediately with tortilla chips.