Opah! The word just screams for Greek inflection, doesn’t it?
Also known as moonfish, opah (Lampris guttatus) is a rich, full-flavored fish with good fat content and a flesh color that ranges from light pink to dark red. The species has been caught incidentally in Pacific longline fisheries for years. Because opah don’t swim in schools, they are typically caught one fish at a time. Fishermen once thought that this unusually colorful fish brought good luck, and would give it away as a goodwill gesture rather than sell it.
If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve likely seen our posts about this species. Historically, we’ve only ever received a few opah at a time. Thanks to this year’s El Nino – a weather event that causes prolonged warming over the Western Pacific Ocean – we’re bringing in boatloads! The meaty texture of opah makes it a great alternative to tuna, and until recently it has only been available in our fish market. In our effort to bring more of our local catch to our customers outside of San Diego, we are now also selling opah online. We are offering a unique selection, from the standard fillet to more underutilized cuts. Allow us to break things down:
- The opah fillet is a center cut from the tender top loin of the fish. It is light salmon-orange to pink-rose in color. Its sweet flavor and lean texture are similar to tuna and make it an excellent choice for sashimi.
- The opah tenderloin displays a dark red color similar to beef. In fact, when grilled or seared over high heat this meat cooks up and practically tastes like steak! We suggest cooking opah tenderloin rare to medium to maintain its red color for a beautiful presentation and ocean fresh flavor. However, when cooked well done this fish presents white like albacore. This cut is also excellent when smoked.
- Opah tri-tip displays a light red meat. Because it boasts a fattier texture, this cut is perfect for pan searing, broiling and frying. Sometimes people refer to this portion as the cheek due to its position on the fish; however, the tri-tip comes from deeper inside the fish near its belly.
Our chef customers in San Diego and beyond have been serving these different cuts of opah, and to rave reviews. We encourage you eat outside the box and try this delicious fish!