Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, August 11, 1999


The finest fish you never knew

By Betty Shimabukuro


Yes, opakapaka is nice, but how about some nice taape?

If you have not yet come across Howard Deese -- aka "the fish guy" --taape probably just looks like a misspelled word. It's actually a shallow-water snapper that is displacing more popular types of snapper. We need to eat it, Deese says, because doing so protects other fish, and because it's good, and because it's cheap -- 79 cents a pound, at last check.

Deese, marine program specialist with the state's Ocean Resources Branch, is a man on a mission, to educate fish-eaters and win their conversion to many of Hawaii's lesser-known fish. Experience his message firsthand at a free Seafood Festival Saturday.

Deese will conduct a "vertical tasting" of up to nine types of fish, the point being to compare their flavors as you would wine. He will saute small pieces without flavoring and let people taste them, in order, from lightest to most robust. "It quickly teaches them that all the fish are good, they just come in different flavors," Deese said.

"What I'm working with here is the fear of trying new fish. When people try a lot of fish together, most people enjoy all the fish."

He'll be selecting fish that are "real values," he says, with the exact types depending on what's available and affordable Saturday morning. He expects to serve hebe (short-billed spearfish), shutome (broad-billed swordfish), tombo (albacore tuna) and, of course, taape.

Also at the festival, Mike Sakamoto, host of TV's "Fishing Tales," will exhibit his watercolor collection and take questions on fishing techniques. Exhibits will showcase aquaculture projects, Japanese contributions to the fishing industry and gyotaku, or fish printing.

A final word about taape: Deese likes to deep fry the smallest ones whole, scales included (he does gut them). Pour shoyu over afterward. The scales get extra crunchy, the external bones get chewable, and the meat comes easily off the center bone. "I generally eat the whole head, too; it becomes like a big potato chip."

Seafood Festival

Bullet When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday
Bullet Place: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, 2454 S. Beretania St. in Moiliili.
Bullet Admission: Free
Bullet Call 945-7633.

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