Oven Roasted Opah Fish with Provençal Vegetables and Basil Coulis

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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
Serves 4.

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

Basil Coulis:
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.

14 thoughts on “Oven Roasted Opah Fish with Provençal Vegetables and Basil Coulis

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  2. We just had this dish for our daughter’s birthday dinner – It was really great! We served it along with some pan roasted new potatoes with garlic and fleur de sel. We had some roasted red pepper, so we used those. Didn’t have kalamata’s on hand, but used a few oil cured olives and capers. The fish has a really nice texture and flavor.

  3. we are holidaying in Kauai ( from Canada ) and needed a recipe to use fresh basil and opah fish. We found your site, tried the recipe and it is a keeper. In fact we have made it twice and our guests have gone home with your recipe. Awesome indeed.

  4. I cooked as per directions and the fish was overcooked yet the veggies were slightly undercooked. I am wondering if the recipe should call for a covered dish??? I am new to cooking fish and was very disappointed.

    1. Mary – I am sorry the fish did not turn out for you. The vegetables should be a little firm. If you prefer them more cooked, then they may be cut in smaller pieces. The thickness of the fish will also affect the cooking time. Try to find a thicker filet (the last time I purchased opah they were a little more than 1 inch thick) or reduce the roasting time. – Lynda


  5. Opah was a fish once reserved for consumption by the alii, and kapu for the maka ainana, or common people.

  6. My wife and I bought some Opah from our local Whole Foods. We first had Opah as a sandwich in Hawaii. Not ever cooking it before, I searched for a recipe and stumbled on yours. Tonight we tried it and it was simply fabulous. The preparation was reminiscent of a puttanesca to us. It was simple to prepare and (if I say so myself) came out perfect. Thanks!

  7. We had a similar experience too Mary. However, we started with previously frozen filets. I am not sure if that was the problem. We greatly enjoy opah here in Hawaii and intend to try this recipe again with fresh filets.

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