Lately Opah has been frequenting the fish counter at our local shop. There are many things I like about Opah including its name, which should not be confused with a Greek dance or a celebrity talk show host. Native to the waters of Hawaii, the Opah fish (also known as Moonfish, Kingfish or Sunfish) is striking. It resembles an enormous silver-blue and rose hued sphere with white spots and crimson fins, tail and snout. Growing to an average of 3 feet in size, Opah’s meat is firm, mild flavored and pink to red in color. With cooking, the meat will turn white. Happily, Hawaiian Opah is not overfished, making it a good substitute for swordfish and halibut. It’s rich with fish oil, and a good source of protein, B vitamins phosphorus and selenium. You can read more about Opah on Seafood Watch.
Oven Roasted Opah with Provençal Vegetables and Basil Coulis
This is a delicious way to serve any firm fleshed fish. Right now peppers are running rampant in our farmers markets. I happened to have a selection of bell, gypsies and fresnos on hand, but bells will do the trick. Toss them with shallots, black olives and tomatoes for a provençal twist, while a dollop of basil coulis adds extra brightness to the dish. Serves 4.
4 filets Opah, about 1-inch thick
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 red or yellow peppers, stemmed and seeded, cut in 3/4″ chunks
2 medium shallots, quartered
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
2-3 sprigs fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 pint grape tomatoes
zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
freshly ground black pepper
For the Basil Coulis:
1 cup basil leaves
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly sprinkle the fish with salt and black pepper. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a rectangular baking dish. Arrange fish one layer in dish, turning to coat with olive oil. Toss remaining ingredients, except lemon juice, in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Scatter the vegetables around the fish. Squeeze the lemon over the fish and vegetables and sprinkle with additional black pepper. Bake in oven until fish is just cooked through, about 30 minutes.
While fish is baking, prepare the basil coulis. Combine basil, olive oil and salt in bowl of food processor and process to a paste consistency.
To serve, remove fish from oven. Top each filet with a generous spoonful of basil coulis. Serve with lemon wedges.