Chef Cindy Quinonez will cook Sweet and Sour Rockfish with Bok Choy and Opah Meatballs (recipe below) this Saturday.
Opah Lampris guttatus (aka moonfish). Opah is a bycatch fish in the tuna and swordfish fisheries off California and around the Pacific Islands. They are available year round, but landings seem to peak from April through August. In 2015, San Diego scientists discovered that opah are warm-blooded fish.
Lettuce-Wrapped Spicy Opah Meatballs
Spicy meatballs made from ground opah, served on lettuce or other greens with a lime dipping sauce. Variation of recipe of same name from Pacific Flavors by Hugh Carpenter.
Spicy Opah Meatballs: 1 pound ground opah 2 green onions, minced 2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander 2 tablespoons light soy sauce 1 egg 1 teaspoon grated orange rind 3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili oil 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 4 cloves garlic, finely minced 1 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced Cornstarch for dusting
Spicy Lime Dipping Sauce:
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 teaspoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili oil 1 clove garlic, finely minced 1 head Bibb lettuce or other greens* 1 bunch fresh cilantro 20 mint leaves 1/2 cup peanut oil * Baby bok choy leaves, kale, chard, spinach, etc.
Preparation: In a bowl, combine ground opah, green onions, coriander, soy sauce, egg, orange peel, nutmeg, chili sauce, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Mix thoroughly, then rub a little oil on your hands and form 20 meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. Arrange on a lightly oiled plate and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Pull leaves from Bibb lettuce or other greens and cut into 20 pieces about 3 inches square. On each lettuce square, place a sprig of cilantro and 1 mint leaf. Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cooking: To broil meatballs, preheat oven to 550 degrees. Place the meatballs on a small baking sheet. Turn oven to broil, place the baking sheet about 4 inches from heat, and broil meatballs until no longer pink in center, about 3 to 4 minutes. To pan-fry meatballs lightly dust with cornstarch. Place a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When frying pan is hot, add oil. When oil just begins to give off a wisp of smoke, add meatballs and pan-fry them, turning them over in the oil until golden brown and no longer pink in the center, about 4 minutes.
Place meatballs next to lettuce cups on the serving platter. Serve at once, accompanied by the dipping sauce. Each person wraps a lettuce cup around a meatball and dips one end of the package into the sauce.
In a small bowl combine dipping sauce ingredients. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons water and refrigerate. Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer; 2 as an entree.