For my inaugural blog, I tossed around a few ideas on what to discuss, but ultimately decided on sharing my undying love of island fish. I just can’t get enough of any particular species (and I am in a position to see and eat many different species mind you).
Most people can eat the usual suspects at any restaurant: Mahimahi, Ono, Ahi, and Opakapaka. I, however, am privy to more obscure species such as Nabeta, a prized local deep sea parrot fish usually only shared among friends. That’s a great steamed fish as it has moist, succulent white flesh.
Rainbow Runner or Kamano the Hawaiian salmon sneaks in occasionally. It has a robust flavor that I’ve cured many times to make an in-house Gravalax. I have served whole crispy fried Taape, which is an invasive Sea Perch introduced from Australia. It can be a little bit boney, but it’s tasty.
Kaku, the Barracuda doesn’t come around much to my kitchen these days. I think the fishermen are afraid of it carrying ciguatera and that no one would buy it, but I have had deep water Kaku which I trust completely. I’ve had it grilled and it is excellent and firm with a full flavor profile. But man the teeth are insane! They look like canine incisors jutting out of the jaw. I think the one fish that really sticks out in recent memory is the Hoggy, which is a deep sea Trigger fish, similar to our state fish the Humuhumukunukuapuaa, only it’s black.
I was given just a Hoggy by a fisherman and I served it to my friend and celebrity chef Beverly Gannon and 7 other ladies as a “Mystery Amuse Bouche.”
I challenged them all to eat and ponder and I would solicit their guesses at the end of the meal. Hoggy is what I would term the “Poor Man’s Hapu’upuu” or Sea Bass. It has a slightly firm white flesh that steams up superbly. Coated in a fresh cilantro pan sauce made from the bones, it was Richter, or off the charts good.
None of the ladies did guess. I thought it was a great treat and I am so happy to have been able to share it with a friend and renowned chef. I suppose I could go on and on, but will end here with this note; when you have the opportunity to experience an unknown island fish, don’t be afraid to give it a go and get your eat on!