Depending on who you ask, Northern snakeheads (Channa argus) are either the worst thing or best thing ever to happen to the Potomac River and the surrounding water systems. For 20 years, these “frankenfish” that can supposedly breathe air, walk on land, and massacre your small pets have been a hot-button topic for anglers, conservationists, and people that like to have strong opinions on matters in general.
Some people think they are going to destroy the ecosystem, others see them as the next big thing in freshwater fishing. Nuisance bycatch to some, bucket list fish for others. No one can seem to agree on much about this introduced, non-native species except two things: they’re hella fun to catch, and they are super tasty.
If you’re into explosive topwater action, violent fighting in shallow water, and you like eating grillable, mild-tasting, juicy fish, this is the fish for you, regardless of how you feel about them. I spend all summer cruising grass beds in tidal creeks looking for these delicious fish, and after long, hot, humid days on the water, grilled fish lettuce wraps are the perfect no-effort meal.
Fish lettuce wraps are great—it's like a salad that is mostly meat. And because you eat them with your hands, there's no need for silverware, plates, shirts, or shoes. But because they look fancy and are best served at room temperature, you can serve them up at parties, cookouts, and dinners without guests ever knowing how little effort you put into them.
You can make these sesame snakehead lettuce wraps with any firm fish, just avoid delicate fish that will fall apart. I marinate fillets in soy sauce and sesame oil for an hour or two then grill them over medium-high heat. Allow fillets to cool down before slicing. As for fixins, keep it simple. The fish is the star of the show, everything else is there to compliment the taste and texture. I like to fill my wraps with thinly sliced cucumber, jalapenos, carrots, red onions, and cilantro. Top them off with sesame seeds and a light drizzle of sesame oil.
- 1 snakehead fillet, boneless, skinless, (about 1 lb.)
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- Romaine lettuce, about 2 hearts or 1 whole head
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced thin
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers, sliced thin
- 1 carrot, peeled, julienned
- ½ red onion, sliced thin
- Sesame seeds
Also works with
- Marinate the fillet for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Remove fillet from marinade, season with salt, and coat lightly with pan spray or oil.
- Cook directly on the grill grate for 2 to 3 minutes per side, covered, until internal temperature reaches about 130°F. Remove from the grill and allow to cool. Once cooled, slice into wrap-sized pieces.
- Assemble wraps, garnish with sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil. If you want a dipping sauce, hoisin, nuoc cham, or soy sauce with smashed chilis all pair well.