Friday, November 7, 2014

Grilled Opah, Garlic Shrimp, and Avocado-Mango Salsa

I stood at the seafood counter of a grocery store staring at four letters.  That is right, four letters, which comprised one word. That one word gave raise to a whole lot of thoughts.   The four letters - O ... P ... A ... H.  That word -- Opah -- is an amazing and interesting fish that I had only heard of but which I never seen either whole or fileted.  Now, I had it within my grasp and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to cook with this amazing fish.

I am not the only one to feel lucky when I set my sight upon an Opah.  These deep water fishes are sometime bycatch on tuna boats.   For a tuna fisherman, to catch an Opah brings good luck.  The fisherman never sold the Opah, perhaps because they believed that would tarnish the good luck.  Instead, they would give it away, giving those who would ordinarily never come across the fish the opportunity to learn about it and cook with it. 

The Opah in all of its glory.
Very little is known about this oddly shaped fish.  What is known is that these fish appear to live their entire lives in the open ocean.  Opah do not swim in schools; instead, they choose to swim around tuna and billfish.  The Opah stands out from the slimmer and sleeker fish.  The round, silver bodies are highlighted by reddish-orange hues and fins.  It should be noted that those round bodies are rather large, with the average weight being approximately 100 pounds.

According to Hawaiian Seafood, an opah has three types of flesh, each with a different color. Behind the head and along the backbone is an attractive orange colored flesh. Toward the belly, the flesh pales to a pink color. The fish's cheeks yield dark red flesh. These types of flesh all cook to a white color. Opah is a rich source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium. It also provides about 1800 mg of omega-3’s (DHA and EPA) per 4 ounce serving of fresh fish.

As I stood at that seafood counter, I was most likely looking at the belly flesh, as it was rather pale in color.  The opah flesh is very meaty, almost tuna like appearance.  This bodes well for the use of rubs or other flavors, but I decided to keep it simple.  Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I decided to make a salsa that could top the fish.  Recipes suggested an avocado-mango salsa, which I decided to use as a guide for the salsa in this recipe.  I also garnished the fish with a few shrimp marinated with garlic and other spices.  

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 4
Ingredients (for the Opah):
1 pound of Opah
1 pound of asparagus
1/2 lemon juiced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil

Ingredients (for the Garlic Shrimp):
1 pound of 16-20 count shrimp, deveined, but with shells
1/2 lemon juiced
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup of olive oil

Ingredients (for the Avocado-Mango Salsa):
1 mango, pitted, peeled and diced
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lime juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Sea sealt
Freshly ground black pepper

1.  Prepare the shrimp and asparagus.  Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper in a ziploc bag..  Add the shrimp and marinate for 10 minutes.  Add the olive oil, lemon juice and asparagus to another ziploc bag.  Season the shrimp and the asparagus with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

2.  Prepare the salsa.  Combine all of the ingredients for the salsa in a non-reactive bowl.  Gently stir to mix the ingredients.  Set aside in the refrigerator.  

3.  Grill the opah, shrimp and asparagus.  Heat the grill on high.  Skewer the shrimp on wooden skewers.  Oil the grates.  When the grill is ready, add the opah, shrimp and asparagus.  The opah should be grilled until just cooked through, about 3 to 6 minutes per side.  The shrimp should be grilled until just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side.  And the asparagus should be grilled for about 2 to 3 minutes per side.  

4.  Plate the dish.  Place the asparagus in the middle of the plate.  Place the Opah on top of the asparagus and spread the shrimp around the Opah. Spoon the salsa over the Opah and the shrimp.  


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