Identification & biology: Body is very compressed and round like. Silvery blue, covered with large pale spots. Fins are bright reddish-orange. Small mouth, large eye and minute scales. Dorsal fin long-based, with front part much taller.
Range & Habitat: Marine; pelagic vagrant in upper water masses of the open ocean, rarely venturing inshore.
Market Description: Since it usually swims along rather in schools, opah is typically harvested as an incidental catch by long-line boats fishing over seamounts in the Pacific, usually for tuna and billfish.
Buying Tips: One opah has four types of flesh, each a different color. The tender meat of the loin, which runs along the backbone from eye to tail, is a light salmon-orange. The less-tender, stringy side flesh is the same color as the loin at the top but becomes paler at the bottom. The cheek meat is dark red. All cook up white except for the bright-red breastplate meat, which turns brown.
Recommended Preparation: Opah has a rich, creamy taste and firm, fatty texture. The flavor is a cross between tuna and swordfish — distinctive but not overpowering. Steak like fillets good for grilling, broiling, sautéing. Top loins are excellent for sashimi, the more fibrous bottom loins become tender when cooked.