Lately, Opah filets have 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. Resembling an enormous silver-blue and rose hued sphere with white spots and crimson fins, tail and snout, it grows to an average of three feet in size. The flesh of Opah’s is firm and mildly flavored, with a pink-to-red hue. During the cooking process, the fish will turn white. Happily, Hawaiian Opah is not overfished, which makes it a good substitute for swordfish and halibut. It’s also predictalby healthy – rich in fish oil, and a good source of protein, phosphorus, and selenium. You can read more about Opah on Seafood Watch.
This recipe is a healthy, flavorful, and colorful way to serve any firm-fleshed fish, including Opah. At this time of year, peppers are running rampant in our farmers markets, so I happened to have a selection of bell, gypsy, and Fresno peppers on hand – but feel free to simply use bell peppers for this recipe.
Oven Roasted Opah with Provençal Vegetables and Basil Coulis
4 opah filets, each about 1-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 red or yellow bell peppers, stemmed and seeded, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
2 medium shallots, quartered
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 sprigs fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 lemon, plus 4 wedges for serving
1 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Lightly season the fish with salt and black pepper. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a rectangular baking dish. Arrange the fish in one layer in the dish, turning to coat with the oil.
3. Combine the garlic, peppers, shallots, tomatoes, olives, thyme, oregano, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add the 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Scatter the vegetables around the fish. Squeeze the juice of the lemon half over the fish and vegetables. Transfer to the oven and roast until the fish is just cooked through, about 30 minutes.
4. While fish is baking, prepare the basil coulis: Combine basil, olive oil, salt, and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process to a paste consistency. If too thick, add additional oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve desired consistency. Taste for seasoning.
5. To serve, top each filet with a generous spoonful of basil coulis. Serve with the lemon wedges.