Star-Bulletin Features

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Robert Fram, left, of Hawaii's Garden & Valley Isle
Seafood, and producer Marie Kelley examine
fish during filming last September.

Fish tales

'Fish Speak' video
explores the aromas and
flavors of Hawaii and
Pacific Island fish

By Catherine Kekoa Enomoto

LEARN to talk the talk, as well as wok the wok. To culminate Hawaii Seafood Festival month in July, a "Fish Speak" video premieres at an introductory price slightly more than a fish dish at an upscale restaurant.

The first in a series of seafood videos by California producer Marie Kelley explores the aromas, flavors and textures of, and cooking techniques for, Hawaii and Pacific island fish.

Fishspeak pioneer Howard Deese of Hawaii's Ocean Resources Branch said such knowledge of fish helps the pocketbook and the environment.

"We hope people come to understand and overcome their 'fear of trying' fish," he said. "If fishers catch and eat a little of each (species), then they don't go after one or two fishes to excess.

"So, the fisher makes a living more easily and the consumer saves some money."

For example, Deese noted that uku (gray snapper) fillet is cheaper than onaga (ruby snapper, at up to $18 a pound) -- yet has all the succulence of lobster.

The 90-minute "Fish Speak" video and accompanying recipe booklet feature a half dozen topnotch Hawaii chefs preparing their specialties. Segments feature Patrick Callarec's tombo (albacore tuna) with lehua honey and black bean sauce; Sam Choy's poke kabobs; Jean-Marie Josselin's sesame crusted mahimahi (dolphinfish).

Also, George Mavrothalassitis' papillote of uku with basil, seaweed and shiitake mushrooms; Alan Wong's seared peppered ahi (bigeye or yellowfin tuna) with crispy slaw and soy vinaigrette; and Roy Yamaguchi's seared opah (moonfish) with mango, cucumber salad and Thai rice.

Flashback to mid-1994: A fish tasting among culinary professionals introduced the concept of fishspeak -- describing the multi-sensory experience of savoring fish as if one were tasting fine wine.

Today, the fishspeak lexicon for 56 species has expanded to descriptives such as flaky, meaty, delicate, robust. Also, buttery, mellow, tangy/citrus, clean, earthy.

Deese said that selected island fish are, in order from light to robust flavors: ono (wahoo), uku, mahimahi, shutome (broadbill swordfish), nairagi (striped marlin), monchong (bigscale pomfret), hebi (shortbill spearfish), tombo, and yellowfin ahi.

He will send a free, 9-by-16-inch, full-color fish brochure to readers who send him a business-sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope at: "Hawaii Seafood Consumer Guide" brochure, P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu 96804.

To access the brochure, the "Hawaii Seafood Buyers Guide" plus 35 recipes from the 1994 Hawaii Seafood Culinary Competition, see web site

Attend fish tastings at Bishop Museum in August, and at JMD Educational Center as part of the fall University of Hawaii Continuing Education curriculum. (A fall-curriculum insert runs Aug. 18 in the Star-Bulletin.)

Meanwhile, wok the wok with a "Fish Speak" video/cook booklet recipe for tomato & mango vinaigrette to dress fish salads, an award-winning poke recipe from Big Island Steak House, and a sweet-sour shutome recipe from a new low-fat Chinese cookbook.

Hawaiian Style Fried Hebi Poke

(By chef Nawai Kekoolani, Big Island Steak House,
second-place winner in this year's third annual
Hawaiian Seafood Festival at Aloha Tower Marketplace)

2 pounds fresh hebi (shortbill spearfish)
1/2 cup soy sauce
Juice of 3 lemons
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound ogo (seaweed)

Cut fish into 2-inch cubes. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients, except the oil and ogo; refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat oil in a wok and sear poke for no longer than 30 seconds. Garnish with the ogo. Makes 16 servings, each 1/2 cup.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 125 calories, 5 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 580 milligrams sodium.*

Tomato & Mango Vinaigrette

(By executive chef James McDonald,
Pacific'o Restaurant, Lahaina)

1 vine-ripened tomato, peeled, smoked (optional), seeded, diced
1 very ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a container. Serve as a sauce, or with any moderate-flavored fish (shutome, nairagi or monchong) placed on a bed of tossed greens. Store dressing in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes 3 cups.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per 2 tablespoon serving, with total 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper added: 95 calories, 10 grams total fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, no cholesterol, 25 milligrams sodium.*

Sweet and Sour Swordfish (Shutome)

(From Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's
"The Chinese Way," Macmillan, 1997, $25)

1/4 teaspoon peanut oil
1 pound shutome (broadbill swordfish) steak, cut into 4 equal portions
2 slices fresh ginger, 1/2-inch thick, lightly smashed

3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
5 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce

To complete the dish:
3 tablespoons minced carrots
3 tablespoons minced green bell pepper
2 scallions, white portions only, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons cold water

Heat wok over high heat for 40 seconds. Add peanut oil and with a paper towel coat the wok. When smoke rises, the wok is very hot.

Place fish in wok, with 1 slice of ginger, lower heat to medium and cook 2 minutes. Raise heat back to high, turn fish over, add the other piece of ginger and cook 1-1/2 minutes more. Turn off heat, remove fish to a serving dish and place in a warm 275-degree oven.

Pour all sauce ingredients into a saucepan and over medium heat, bring to a boil. Add carrots, peppers and scallions, stir into sauce and bring back to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture and pour into saucepan, stir well and return to a boil. The sauce will thicken. Turn off heat.

Turn off oven heat. Remove fish. Pour sauce over fish and serve with cooked rice. Makes 4 servings.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 154 calories, 4 grams fat, 41 milligrams cholesterol, 444 milligrams sodium.*

Catch 'Fish Speak'

What: Mail order the "Hawaii and Pacific Islands - Fish Speak" consumer video
Introductory offer: $33.45 ($29.95 plus $3.50 postage) until Sept. 15, $43.45 after Sept. 15, or $39.99 at Bishop Museum gift shop; a two-part, two-hour professional version costs $73.45 until Sept. 15, and $93.45 after Sept. 15
Mail checks made to: Kelley Productions, P.O.Box 890, La Jolla, Calif. 92038-0890
Information: Call 1-800-798-1626.

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