Opah—also called moonfish because of its disc-like shape—is a large, colorful, deep-water fish common in the waters surrounding Hawaii and other tropical regions. Its colorful skin features hues of bluish silver, orange, and red, while the flesh ranges from areas of light pink to reddish-orange—but it all tends to turn white when cooked. Like tuna or swordfish, opah is typically cut into thick, steak-like filets, and its firmness makes it a great fish for grilling.
|From National Geographic.com. Photo by Ralph Pace|
The opah’s mild, sweet flavor goes well with a complementary sweet glaze or sauce. Here, I made a simple glaze with apricot preserves and a splash of fresh lemon juice for a tangy contrast. If you can’t find opah in your local fish market, the glaze will work well with tuna, swordfish, or even thick-cut salmon steaks.
Note: I made a hot lump-charcoal fire and let the coals cool to medium to medium-low so I could grill the fish directly over them. If you don’t have time to wait for the coals to cool a bit, simply grill the fish close to the fire but not directly above the flames. This prevents the tender flesh from burning quickly, while still resulting in a nice char and light, smoky flavor.
- 2 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 12-oz piece of opah, about 1-1/2 inches thick, halved
- olive oil, for rubbing
- Light a grill for medium heat with space for off-heat grilling, if needed.
- Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and melt the butter. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
- Add the apricot preserves and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the glaze thickens, 4 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand while the fish grills.
|Garlic in Butter|
|Glaze Beginning to Cook|
- Rub the opah pieces with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub the grill grate with oil.
- Grill the fish off heat until lightly charred on the outside and but still opaque in the middle, 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness. (Tip: If your fish pieces are very thick, you can turn them to grill on all 4 sides for about 2 minutes each, instead of just grilling on the top and bottom sides.)
|Fish Beginning to Cook|
Transfer to plates, brush with glaze, and serve right away.
|Grilled Opah (Moonfish) with Apricot-Lemon Glaze|