Pan Seared Hawaiian Opah with Mango & Hatch Chile Salsa

Posted by johngl

One of the coolest things about Austin, for me anyway, is that we have great grocery stores.  We’ve got a couple of high-end companies, Whole Foods and Central Market (a division of HEB), duking it out to provide us the best food the world has to offer.

Consequently, you might find yourself wandering by the seafood counter and notice a pinkish-colored fish called opah. I’d certainly heard about opah from an old friend of mine who did a lot of deep-sea fishing, but had never actually tasted it.

Pan Seared Opah with Fruit Salsa
Pan Seared Hawaiian Opah with Mango & Hatch Chile Pepper Salsa

This was my opportunity.  The fact that it coincided with the Hatch Chile Festival at Central Market was an added bonus.

Right out of the gate, the smell of the roasting Hatch peppers got my attention.  The sweet smell of these things is unmistakable.  Those folks in Hatch, New Mexico really know what they’re doing when it comes to raising chile peppers.

Hatch Chile Roaster

Central Market sets up a couple of these barrel-shaped units right out in front of the store and roasts bushels of Hatch peppers at a time. They just tumble away as the flames toast the pepper skins. The aromas coming off of these things just makes me drool.

So anyway, I knew that roasted peppers would be a part of the dinner preparation.

While wandering through the store, I found these items as well:

salsa fixins

Starting lower left and moving clockwise we have: organic nectarine, New Zealand Tentation apples, organic mango, avocado, and sweet yellow cherry tomatoes from Mexico.

I’d never had the Tentation apples before either. They are a light yellow-green with a blush of orange.  And damn tasty! Crunchy.  Sweet.  Sour.  And really juicy.

Central Market gets fresh fish deliveries on Saturday mornings, so any time we are feeling the need for something other than a burger, we wander on in.


Above, a quarter pound block of opah.  This came off a fish that looks like this:

Ain’t it cute? I just read that these things can get to over six feet in length and up to 600 pounds.  Not quite so cute at that size.

Most of these are caught accidentally during line-catching of tuna. Some deep-sea fisherman go out specifically for them as well.

I cut a thin slice of sashimi off of the brick of fish and gave it a taste.  It was very mild, not at all oily, and extremely fresh-tasting.  I could have eaten my chunk raw in one sitting. I kept myself in check and decided to do a very simply pan-sear.

Dusting the fish with a little salt, I dropped it into a smoking hot pan.  All that was in the pan was a thin coating of grapeseed oil.

seared quickly

It literally takes about two minutes to cook fish this way, so before this hits the pan, you may want to get your salsa out of the way.  First the mango.

cross-hatched cuts of mango

Note the cross-hatch style cuts in the mango half.  It makes it really easy to spoon out nicely cut diamonds.  I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to size consistency here and my chef friends will probably spank me for it.

spooning out mango diamonds

See how simple that is?

Time for the chile peppers:

Hatch Chile Pepper

This is a roasted pepper.  The burnt skin has been rinsed away.  Open the pepper up and scrape out the seeds:

opened up

Then cut it into thin slices:


Pile up the slices and chop away:

ready to chop

I peeled and chopped half the apple, used all of the nectarine, and about five of the cherry tomatoes.  The tomatoes were halved, then each half was cut into quarters.

halved tomatoes

I mixed the Hatch peppers, mango, apple, nectarine, and tomato with a splash of key lime juice (for acidity and preventing oxidation) and a half-ounce splash of tequila (for flavor).  A pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar finished this off for now.  I don’t put avocado in until the last minute because it tends to brown when it is refrigerated.

Just prior to cooking the fish, I cut about half of the avocado into cubes and mixed it in with the chilled fruit blend.

I seared the fish for about 15-20 seconds on each side.  Six sides, less than two minutes of cooking time.

Plate and serve!

Opah, avocado, and salsa

And the wine?  Well, believe it or not, there are some pretty good Chardonnays coming out of New Mexico.  Chile peppers and wine, who knew?

This one was a 2007 Gruet (makers of some good, inexpensive sparkling wines).  Eight months in French oak barrels gives this wine hints of toasty vanilla.  There is also a buttery richness offset by a good amount of acid. It is exceptionally well-balanced for something in the $10 per bottle price range.  On the palate, green apple with a hit of citrus made this a perfect match with the dish.

While the eco-footprint of this dish is a bit large (New Zealand, Hawaii, Mexico, New Mexico) it sure did taste good and, less the prep on the fruit, it’s easy to prepare.

While I really enjoy eating locally produced food products, I still like to take advantage of what our great Austin grocers have to offer and enjoy some world-class fare on occasion.

This entry was posted in Meat, Recipes: Eats, Techniques, Water, Wine and tagged , , , by johngl. Bookmark the permalink.

About johngl

A bit of a wildman, John hails from the Midwest: A land of corn, cows, pigs, and a host of other healthfully meaty pursuits. Born on a dark and stormy night in late Fall, John grew up as the son of a meat cutter. There was always plenty of meat at hand. While not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, his family certainly ate well. According to his father, that was the whole point.

7 thoughts on “Pan Seared Hawaiian Opah with Mango & Hatch Chile Salsa

  1. Our local Harris Teeter had a binful of (unroasted) hatch chile peppers so I bought a few because I’d never heard of them, let alone tasted them. Now I’m wondering what to do with them. No opah here, no Tentation apples, no Whole Foods or Central Market or even Fresh Market. Dang, I’m moving to Austin.

    • Well, I’m going to be putting some on a pork burger in a future post (coming soon). The Hatch peppers are great on a regular burger, too. You can even stuff them with ground beef and rice and braise them in tomato sauce.

      They are great just about any way you cook ’em.

  2. That looks great John! I have to get more adventurous with fish – I have now gotten to the point that I can eat ahi tuna medium rare and can get by how it looks and just love how it tastes!

    The first time Tony made it for me, I made him put it back on until it was grey all the way through – the shame!

    And you had me at Hatch Chiles!

    • I’m glad you’re willing to broaden your horizons. The opah is surprisingly mild.

      The Hatch peppers come in both mild and hot, so your salsa habit should be well sated.

        • I miss your brother, too. Even though he lives in the same town and we work in the same place, I don’t see him very often.

          As for the salsa, Charlie probably wouldn’t have a problem with it. We made some spicy popcorn (putting pequin powder in a microwave popcorn bag) a few years back and he really liked that.

  3. Pingback: Pan Seared Hawaiian Opah with Mango & Hatch Chile Salsa « The … | Chile Today

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