Hawaii and Eating Hawaiian Seafood

Visiting Hawaii has been an extraordinary experience for me and my partner. Living here is a bit expensive, but it seems to me that the lifestyle is worth the effort. People live all over several different islands – 137 to be exact. But there are four major islands- Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii known as the big island. Each has its own special qualities and other characteristics that cut across virtually everyone who lives there.

For example, the range of different types of people in the Hawaiian region is reflected by significant numbers of Japanese, Filipino, Native Hawaiian, White, Chinese, Black and Afro American, and Latin.

Perhaps this diversity among the people in Hawaii helps explain their kindness, warmth, and generosity. The population is more accepting of one another, regardless of how different they are. It’s difficult to overestimate these qualities in Hawaii. People rarely honk their horns at one another; nor argue publicly. Further, I have observed scores of youth, middle-aged and older Hawaiians who seem to go out of their way to tolerate one another. I do need to emphasize however that these are my own impressions and are not scientifically based. Yet they do seem generally practiced by most everyone.

The many types of people who have chosen to live in Hawaii is mirrored by the many types of foods they enjoy from beef to pork to chicken to vegetarian cuisine plus a multitude of fish that are popular. See a number of my favorite fish below.

Hawaiian Fish Favorites
Popularized by Nathan Warne a traveler and freelance writer.

1-Ahi is one of my favorites that is also called Yellowfin Tuna. It is eaten raw, or in the form of sushi or sashimi. Ahi is also eaten routinely in 1-inch square shapes with rice and seasoning and is called “Poke” throughout Hawaii where it began and in growing numbers of large cities in the U.S. A few weeks ago, I also wrote about Ahi in my Blog kitchen.

2-Hapu’upu’u is called Sea Bass in Hawaii and most often is prepared steamed.

3- Nairagi is often called Striped Marlin in local markets while all Marlin are delicious as is this one.

4- Ono has a mild flavor and is excellent to prepare on the grill.

5- The Opakapaka is also called the Opa. In English speaking markets it is known as the Red Snapper. It has light pink flesh and has a delicate flavor. It holds the reputation as one of the islands’ favorite snappers. And is also among my favorites.

6- Kona Crab is highly prized in Hawaii but is not easy to catch for everyone. Hiring a seasoned Captain such as Capt. Kyle Yamada of Maui is one of the best methods to follow. For example, we learned that 80% of Kona’s Crabs are returned to the sea. Capt. Yamada also requires using fresh bait which is not always available, and those that are kept must be at least 20 inches long. Further, female crabs are thrown back; and catching these crabs requires the patience to drop your bait 16 to 25 fathoms deep. Those that are kept are worth the trouble however because they are tender and delicious to eat.

7- Mahi Mahi- Though popular the world around, Hawaiians probably have more experience cooking and eating this fish than any other people.

8– Swordfish is caught in East coast waters of the United States. The fish is similar in flavor to several types of marlins and is usually available in most Hawaiian fish markets.

Recipe to use with the Pink or Red Snapper
Serves 2-3


2 Lbs. of Red Snapper roasted at 400F with 1 tsp E/V/O
1 tbsp Kosher salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp ground Cayenne Red Pepper
¼ cup Italian tomato paste
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 large can of tomato puree
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp of each of the following fresh herbs, including thyme, oregano, marjoram, and parsley, plus smoked paprika
1 medium Hawaiian Onion, diced
6 thinly sliced basil
¼ small capers
10 sliced black olives
1 bay leaf


1-Preheat your oven to 400F 2- Cut the fish into fillets or have your fish butcher remove the heads and fillet your fish for you.

3- Combine all the recommended herbs and spices, and all the breadcrumbs in one bowl, and set aside.

4-Combine the tomato paste, tomato puree, diced onions, 1 bay leaf, capers, and 10 large, sliced, black olives and prepare marinara. Sauté the diced onion, add the white wine, lemon juice, basil, bay leaf, and capers. Cook for 30 minutes and set aside.

5- Combine the breadcrumbs with the olive oil and mix together

6- Coat the fillets with the breadcrumbs and olive oil, Heat at low to medium in your roasting pan and place in the oven at 450 F for 5 minutes to lightly toast the filets. Remove the pan of fillets from the oven and pour the marinara over the fillets of fish. Place in oven 40 minutes and remove it from the oven.

7- Using a Toothpick, insert into the fish fillets to be sure all are done
without being too moist. If necessary, reinsert in the oven for 7 minutes and serve.


Send questions or your favorite recipes directly to  [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you. Chef Alan