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. It resembles an enormous silver-blue and rose hued sphere with white spots and crimson fins, tail and snout, and it grows to an average of three feet in size. Its flesh is firm and mildly flavored, with a rosy pink color, and, during the cooking process, it will turn white. Happily, Hawaiian Opah is not overfished, which makes it a good substitute for swordfish and halibut. It’s also predictably 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 at our farmers market, so I happened to have a selection of bell, gypsy, and Fresno peppers on hand – but feel free to use sweet 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 bite-size pieces
2 medium shallots, quartered
1 dry 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 in 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 the basil, olive oil, salt, and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process to a chunky salsa consistency. If too thick, add additional oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve a looser consistency. Taste for seasoning.
5. To serve, top each filet with a generous spoonful of basil coulis. Serve with the lemon wedges.