In Hawaii, I grew up on the street is named after a fish – the ulua, the largest of the halberds, a blunt-headed tit, sometimes weighing more than a hundred pounds, glows along the reef. It is fished with high stakes anchored in sea cliffs and sewn to hooks with eel or octopus bait. Mahimahi, a neon light dimly lit in the depths, is the next street to run through.
We are surrounded by the ocean, but my family eats seafood only under compulsion, like devout Catholics on Fridays during Lent, fillets of yellow perch – a fish of the mainland – from the freezer at Safeway. Later I studied in the local waters, worked as a hostess at a restaurant, overheard the server, who patiently described to tourists the species on the menu: meaty ahi (yellowfin tuna); cream opah (moon fish); moi Tinh (silk), once reserved for royalty; the thin, long ono (wahoo) races, jumps and dives, tormenting its hunters; and the hierarchy of snapper, from ehu to opakapaka and above all onaga, with its ruby color.
It was the onaga I looked forward to all year, it was the focal point of the Christmas Eve party next door, where Stella Chang, my mother’s neighbor of nearly 50 years, graciously invited me, the prodigal son from New York. The dining table is crowded, or as we say, kapakahi (mixed) – rice in a 10-cup pot, stuffed cabbage, tenderloin, ham under fragrant light, king crab legs with a little melted butter hotpot, pink heart roast beef slug with jus – but onaga is the solution As a bonus, the entire fish was buried under a layer of scallions, cilantro, carrots and celery, revealing only a fringed tail and a jade eye.
The meat lifts straight off the bone.
Glenn Yamashita – Uncle Glenn for young people to roam the house, regardless of de facto relationship – has been making this dish for about 25 years. It’s his twist on a local specialty, Chinese-style steamed fish, which is sour and salty from preserved vegetables and lightly sweet from the fish’s own flesh. Japanese somen skewers are placed underneath and hot oil is poured on top. Do it right, it chirped.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/magazine/red-snapper-hawaiian-recipe.html The fish bring a lucky year