Moonfish's oil-rich flesh makes it ideal for most types of cooking methods, from pan-searing to the grill. More commonly known as opah, moonfish is a large tropical fish found primarily in the deep waters surrounding Hawaii. Moonfish have different colored flesh in various areas of their bodies, though most of it cooks up firm and white. Similar to swordfish, moonfish is most often cut into thick steak fillets. However you decided to cook them, serve them with a sweet sauce that complements its flavor, such as a spicy fruit salsa, or a honey or maple-based sauce.
Meaty moonfish steaks can be grilled up much in the same way as swordfish steaks. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for high heat, brushing the grill grates with vegetable oil. While the grill heats up, rub your fish steaks with olive oil and your favorite seasonings. You can marinate the steaks for up to 30 minutes. When the grill is ready, cook them for about two minutes per side, until the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the minimum temperature for safe consumption.
To oven-roast moonfish, preheat the oven to between 425 and 450 F. If possible, use a wire rack over a baking sheet line with parchment paper, allowing the heat of the oven to circulate all around the fish. Roast the steaks for about 12 to 15 minutes, until fully cooked through to 145 F. If you want to add more flavor, make a sweet glaze while the fish cooks and brush it on as soon as they come out of the oven. Alternately, you can broil the fish under the broiler in the oven for about eight to 10 minutes, giving the fish a slightly crispier finish.
Pan-searing is best for smaller moonfish fillets. To cook, add a thin layer of olive oil or butter over high heat. Add the fillets when the pan is hot and cook on one side, undisturbed, for two minutes, allowing the outside to get nicely browned and crispy. Flip it over with a spatula and cook for another two minutes to sear. Lower the heat slightly and allow the moonfish to continue cooking, flipping frequently to prevent the outside from getting burnt before the inside is fully cooked. You can also finish it in a preheated oven set to at least 425 F. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the fish is cooked to 145 F.
Add more flavor to the rich moonfish by coating it in a crust before frying or roasting. For a nut crust, crush a slightly sweet nut such as macadamia or pistachios in a food processor and combine with panko breadcrumbs and seasoning. Dredge the fish in flour, then an egg wash before coating it with the nut-crumb mixture, ensuring it will stick well to the fish. If you don't want to include nuts, you can use just panko breadcrumbs, or add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Other additions to a coating might include coconut flakes or sesame seeds. The coating should become golden brown and crispy when ready.
- Hawaii-Seafood: Moonfish (Opah)
- Roys Fish and Seafood; Roy Yamaguchi et al.,
- Food and Wine: Grilled Opah with Olives
- Hawaii Country Tables; Kaui Philpotts
- Maple-Balsamic Glazed Swordfish Steaks
- The North End Fish Market: Moonfish (Opah) with Feta and Lemon
- Town and Country Markets: Macadamia-Crusted Fish
Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.