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Opah, Two Ways (David Tanis-Inspired Crudo and Seared Fish)

I am lucky to have been profoundly influenced by two grandfathers, both of whom I affectionately call ‘Ded’ (sort of like Pop in Russian). One used to live far from me and come visit occasionally. The other used to live very close to me and took me to museums, to parks and just to eat ice cream. But when I was seven years old, that changed. My family left Russia and both of my grandfathers (and grandmother) stayed behind –one in St.Petersburg and the other in Moscow. At the time, I didn’t understand the scope and significance of the move. Years later, when my family moved again – to a suburb in New Jersey, my dad’s dad came to live with us. My mom’s dad, Ded Yulya, (the one who lived near me) would visit, with my grandmother, whenever he could.

Ded Yulya is a large man–not heavy, but tall and broad, tanned and gregarious. In his youth, he had a George Clooney-esque-ness about him. His black hair grayed gracefully over the years and despite his age, he continues to work as a civil engineer. Ded is more traveled that anyone I know. He has been to India and the far reaches of the Middle East. He has been to China and Cuba and Portugal and a hundred places whose names I have a hard time following. Ded is a storyteller, and he has many stories to tell.

Ded Yulya loves life. He loves a good celebration. He likes to treat people to a good time. He has lifelong friends. And he loves to say, “OPA!” It means a slew of different things in different languages (in Russian, kind of like ‘oops’ and in Greek ‘hooray!’). Ded uses these meanings interchangeably.

When I first saw California Opah at a local market, all I could think about was my grandpa. I wonder if he has ever eaten opah –probably. In any case, I had recently bookmarked a recipe in David Tanis’ new book for a halibut crudo and had been dying to try it when I saw a little sign next to the opah: “great for crudo!” I was sold. We purchased more fish than needed for crudo (an Italian-style sashimi) and decided to sear half of it as well.

The fish (make sure it is sushi-grade, if you’re going to eat it raw) was an incredible find. Raw, thinly sliced and drizzled with a lemony olive oil, it was delicate, refreshing and melted in my mouth. Seared, it took on a whole different flavor profile: meaty, but still tender, it reminded me a bit of a cross between halibut and branzino. I served it with a light little salad of butter lettuce and blood orange slices. You can make this with sushi-grade halibut, too, but I was particularly thrilled with the opah.


Opah, Two Ways
*serves 2

Opah Crudo
*adapted from Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys

Note: the recipe makes extra dressing. If you want to serve four people, no need to double the amount of ingredients for the lemon oil.

1/2 pound of sushi-grade opah (or halibut), sliced thinly across the grain
1 tablespoon of good-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon of thinly sliced scallions
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place your serving platter in the refrigerator while prepping the ingredients. Arrange the fish on the plate.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, scallions, salt and pepper.
3. Drizzle the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

Seared Opah

1 pound of sushi-grade opah
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil
lemon, to serve

1. Season the fish with salt and pepper and brush it with a little bit of olive oil. Set aside.
2. Preheat a grillpan over medium-high heat and lightly grease it with olive oil.
3. Sear the opah on both sides (a few minutes per side), until it develops grill marks and is 3/4 cooked. Since your fish is sushi-grade, don’t worry about the very center being slightly raw –be sure not to overcook the fish.
4. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over it and serve on a bed of salad, with the crudo as an appetizer.

Musical Pairings: Puro Instinct – Headbangers In Ecstasy + Opah, Two Ways

To read about today’s Musical Pairing (and listen/download), head to the Turntable!

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • i am a recent addict to your blog and was so happy to see this post & david tanis come up in it. i am marginally obsessed with him and his cookbooks right now – i got to have lunch with him a month or so ago and i have the kind of crush most girls have on david beckham or something. he was so delightful & all the recipes i’ve tried have been amazing. this one is now double bookmarked to try. thanks for sharing 🙂

  • First of all, I’m flattered. Your recipes and photos are amazing! Second, I am so jealous! I love his approach to food and cooking. I’m a bit intimidated by some of the other recipes in the book (where would I go to get a whole suckling pig and how would I roast it in my apartment?) but I think that overall, there is so much to learn from it. Plus, I love the casual writing 🙂 Thanks, Tami!

  • Oh Kasey, this is so pretty! Your Ded is well traveled, wow. I’m sure he has some fascinating stories.

  • Thank you, Nicole! I wish I was able to spend more time with him these days–especially since he definitely passed on his love of travel to me 🙂

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention new on a David Tanis-inspired Opah Crudo (and grandfathers - read on, you'll see :)): --

  • Ojankalsyans

    did u possibly mean Ono wahoo fish? ur pictures show a white fleshed fish that looks much like Ono…Opah is much more redish

  • Nope, it was Opah! It was quite pinkish. Perhaps the dressing made it look whiter.

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