My restaurant, called Miya's Sushi, is just a few miles from Long Island Sound in New Haven, Conn. We have made it our goal to return our cuisine to the roots of sushi, meaning simply to use what we have available where we live. Too often what we find now are invasive species—unwanted plants and animals humans have introduced to ecosystems. Nationwide, invasive species such as the wild boar and Asian carp are destroying farms and fisheries, causing economic damage that has been estimated at $120 billion a year.

Our solution? Eat them. By collecting invasive seafood on shellfish beds, for instance, we basically provide a free weeding service. I also hope to convince the world that these invasives can be delicious, if you get into the right mind-set.

Consider the stalked tunicate—also known by the delicious-sounding name “Asian sea squirt”—which has taken over what used to be blue mussel habitat from Maine to New Jersey. The alien sea squirt, which is indigenous to the Philippines, is considered a fouling organism and a pest by the shellfish industry. In South Korea, however, it is considered a delicacy and even an aphrodisiac.

I first ate sea squirt at a Korean sushi bar in New York City. The saclike squirts were arranged like a sunflower in the middle of a bright orange plate. As I bit into one of the yellow appendages, it burst with salty, viscous, warm liquid. Although I could not see the liquid, I could taste its phlegmy consistency, and it took all my willpower to keep it in my mouth and even more effort to swallow it.

Buckminster Fuller used to say that one should “dare to be naive.” I think it takes a bit of his approach to truly accept new ways of doing things—including, of course, eating. The next time I tried sea squirt, I scraped one off a pier. I sliced open its tough outer membrane, which revealed a soft, orange flesh, like mango. With barely a pause, I slurped it into my mouth from the palm of my hand. This time it was good.

I have foraged, fished and hunted many different species of plants and animals; the following are just a few of the dishes I have served in my restaurant from the invasive ones.

La Soupe des Mean Greenies
European green crabs made their way to the U.S. in the 19th century. They voraciously consume the larvae of commercial shellfish species and are considered one of the top 100 most destructive invasive species in the world. I smoke the crabs with applewood, dehydrate them with lemongrass and hot peppers, then pulverize them into a powder that I use for the base of a savory crab-miso soup. I then steam whole crabs in a hoppy beer and hot Ethiopian spices and serve them atop the soup as if they are struggling to climb out—a symbol of the tenacity of invasive species.

Stone Soup
The European flat oyster was deliberately introduced to Maine in the 1940s and competes with native shellfish. I simmer a rock covered in European flat oysters, rockweed and invasive wakame (sea mustard) in a sake broth flavored with Queen Anne's lace root, wild onions and native morels. I serve the soup in a large iron pot—enough for a small village to share.

Forest Fritters
Invasive earthworms have spread to every continent and oceanic island in the world. European settlers introduced one third of all the species of earthworms that inhabit North America. Although native earthworms are beneficial, invasive ones can drastically alter the biodiversity of a forest and lower its resistance to other invasive species. Earthworms are much higher in protein than steak, and they contain many important nutrients. To make a worm safe and pleasant to eat, one must first squeeze the dirt out of its gut and then cook it to kill any harmful soil microbes or parasites remaining. I butterfly cleaned worms, rinse them and then chop them before cooking.

My recipe for earthworms is inspired by fritters that the Vietnamese make from freshwater worms. I season chopped earthworms with ginger, scallions, hot peppers, grated orange peels and lemongrass. Then I fry them into fritters, which look more appealing than whole worms do. Prepared this way, worms actually have a pleasant mouth-feel similar to ground meat.

Knot Your Mother's Lemonade
Japanese knotweed grows quickly in clusters and crowds out other herbaceous species. It has been named one of the world's 100 worst invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is currently thriving in 41 states. The taste is crunchy, juicy and tart—not unlike a Granny Smith apple. I blend Japanese knotweed shoots in mineral water, ice and a splash of lemon juice, along with fresh stevia and kefir lime leaves.

Swarm, Crackle, Pop
The biblical book of Exodus tells of a plague of locusts blackening the ground; after the swarm passed, “Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.” Locust swarms these days can span 100 square miles and eat 50 million pounds of plants in a day. Swarms migrate great distances: in 1988 one traveled from Africa to the Caribbean in 10 days. These ravenous pests threaten the food security of almost a tenth of humanity—I want to turn the tables on them. As a child, my mother roasted grasshoppers over a fire until the fat in them crackled and popped. My recipe seasons locust and peanuts with a spicy honey teriyaki. I then bake them in the oven until they turn into sweet, crunchy morsels—like Cracker Jack, but with more protein.

Kiribati Sashimi
Lionfish is a voracious, highly poisonous, invasive predator, locustlike in its destructiveness. It was probably introduced to the U.S. by people in the aquarium trade. Protected by highly toxic spines and resembling seaweed, lionfish have few natural enemies. Yet with their dangerous spines removed, their flesh is sweet and delicious. I serve lionfish raw and sliced thin, with a squeeze of lime juice, a sprinkling of seven different kinds of crushed peppers, roasted seaweed flakes and toasted sesame seeds. The dish is topped with sea salt from Kiribati, a Pacific island nation threatened by a sea rising because of climate change.

Oinkimo
Feral hogs were introduced by European explorers in the 1500s; their numbers have exploded in recent years. The pigs eat some native and endangered species and fight for resources with others. But feral hog meat is pharmaceutical-free, unlike most commercial pork, which is raised with antibiotics. I wrap roasted invasive daylily buds in seared, thin-sliced feral hog meat, then drizzle the pig rolls with a ginger, garlic, roasted sesame and sauvignon blanc soy sauce.

Peanut Butter and Jelly
Feral rabbits are some of the most ecologically destructive animals. They procreate uncontrollably, destroy croplands and contribute to soil erosion. Jellyfish populations are expected to explode because of the acidification of the oceans, yet very few cultures appreciate them as a food source. The warty comb jelly, one of the most invasive species on earth, is linked to the collapse of a handful of fisheries. This recipe is my twist on the classic steak-house surf and turf. Invasive cannonball jellyfish, trawled off the state of Georgia, is thin-sliced and mixed with steamed invasive Australian rabbit and cucumber. I season the combination with creamy, roasted peanut butter.

Kudzu Tchaikovsky Sushi
Native to Europe and Asia, the mute swan was introduced to the U.S. as an ornamental species. The swan's majestic looks have earned it protected status in some parts of the U.S., but the swans damage marshes and shallow-water habitats by tearing up vegetation. Kudzu, known as the mile-a-minute plant for how quickly it grows, is in the pea family and was introduced to the U.S. from Asia by gardeners in the 1930s. It creates a canopy and suffocates native forests.

I rub bow-shot swan in a puree of olive oil, freshly grated ginger and Jamaican jerk seasoning, then slow-roast it. The tender dark meat is finely chopped and mixed with roasted shallots and rosemary. I serve it in a steamed kudzu-leaf roll stuffed with a sherry-scented sticky rice and wild morels.