Nov 16, 2017

Pickled Green Opo

Tasty bites of locally grown opo squash, pickled with red bell pepper and spices.
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Pickled Green Opo Squash
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One of the most popular recipes on is Opo squash soup. It's almost always on the top 10 list on the left side of this blog. Long green squash is very popular with the Asian community here on Moloka'i for soups and stir-fries, and is available both in our grocery stores and at our farmers market.

Originally the Chinese and Filipino plantation workers introduced this now popular vegetable to the Hawaiian population. 

Opo squash has a mild flavor similar to zucchini and is fat free, saturated fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, and a good source of vitamin C.

I was making Opo soup for my wife and I when I realized that I had half a squash left over. That's when I came up with the idea of slicing the squash up into 1/4 inch, bite-sized pieces and made pickles out of it. They are delicious! For more information about this popular vegetable, 
click here.

Here's my recipe for:

Pickled Green Opo Squash
2- 1 quart canning jars with lids
1/2 large Opo squash, peeled, inside pith and seeds removed, sliced into 1/4 inch bite-sized pieces
1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoons sea salt, divided
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and skin removed and thinly sliced.
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided
2 teaspoons dried dill, divided
2 teaspoons pickling spice, divided
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar for each jar
4 tablespoons of Patis, Filipino fish sauce, divided (see "Note" below)
6 cups of boiling water

Opo – Long Green Squash
Put your jars and lids in a large pot and cover with hot water. Put the lid on the pot and boil the water on high heat. allow to boil for 10 minutes, and then turn the heat off. This will sterilize the jars.

Next wash and peel the squash with a potato peeler. With a big sharp knife, cut the squash lengthwise and remove all of the white pith and seeds (save the other half to make soup out of or add it the your stir fry). Cut the half squash lengthwise into 4 pieces, then slice each into 1/4 inch pieces.

Take two ramekins or 2 coffee cups and divide your sliced garlic and put it into each cup. now add the rest of the spices to each cup. Put the divided spices into the bottom of each sterilized jar.  now fill the two jars with a mixture of squash pieces and red bell pepper, gently pressing them into the jars to get as many into each jar as you can, but leave about 1/2 inch of room at the top of each jar. Put the jars into your kitchen sink and put the vinegar into each jar, plus the fish sauce.

Now carefully pour the hot water into each jar, leaving 1/4 inch of air space. Immediately seal the jars with the hot lids, and close them very tightly with a hand towel. Leave the jars on your kitchen counter at room temperature for about 24 hours. If you like crisp pickles, you can eat them the next day. After 24 hours, refrigerate the pickled opo for one week before eating. Makes 2 quarts.

Note: I've been cooking for a long time and have come to love Asian fish sauce as a complex flavor additive to enhance many different recipes, not just Asian recipes, so I always have a bottle in my refrigerator. My favorite is a Vietnamese fish sauce called Red Boat 40˚ N, which does not contain added water, preservatives or MSG. It has a light amber color, not fishy tasting or too salty. For more information about this amazing sauce, plus great recipes, check out their website. This sauce is also available on but unfortunately not available on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i. However Filipino brands of fish sauce (Patis) are available here, just check the label for MSG. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food ingredient that's "generally recognized as safe," but its use remains controversial.

For more canning recipes, check out the "Recipe Index" tab above, under "Condiments".

Nov 10, 2017

Striped Hawaiian Mullet

Striped Hawaiian mullet,‘Ama‘ama, were one of the most important fish species in traditional Hawaiian culture. Young fish were caught in nets along the shoreline, then raised in the many fishponds throughout the islands. After being fattened in the fishponds, they were harvested and eaten raw with seaweed added, or wrapped in ti or ginger leaves and broiled or baked.

There are three species of mullet in Hawaiian waters but the striped Hawaiian mullet is the largest, reaching 18 inches in length and weighing about 3 pounds. After December 1st the striped mullet starts its spawning season which puts them off-limits until April 1st. The annual winter closure is designed to help the fish reproduce successfully and protect the species from overfishing.

Mullet has a relatively high oil content that keeps the meat moist in a variety of preparation methods. Steam or bake whole fish or sear fillets, skin-side down, in a pan. Moi can also be grilled, broiled or pan fried and served raw as sashimi. The oil in the flesh makes smoking an option as well.
I was fortunate enough to be gifted a large striped Hawaiian mullet by a friend who loves to fish in the waters around Moloka'i. He told me that he and his wife like to cook this delicious fish very simply in a soup seasoned with just lemon juice and soy sauce. I took this concept and developed my own recipe for Moloka'i Mullet Stew, which follows:

Striped Hawaiian Mullet
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Moloka'i Mullet Stew
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Moloka'i Mullet Stew
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus 2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 inches fresh ginger, sliced into thin strips
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large mullet filleted and cut into 4 pieces (remove the skin), saving the bones for the broth
4 tablespoons soy sauce, plus 4 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or chili oil
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, cleaned and stems removed
6 cups water
2 lemons or limes, juiced, or to taste
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Heat the canola oil and sesame oil in a deep pot.

Saute the ginger, onions, and garlic for 2 minute.

Pour-in water and bring to a boil.

Add fish bones and simmer for 1/2 hour, then remove the bones and strain the broth to remove any stray bones. Add the fish fillets, soy sauce and fish sauce, potatoes, and lemon juice to the stock. Let the liquid re-boil and then simmer for 8 minutes, then taste the broth for additional seasoning if needed.

Put the fresh spinach leaves in 4 soup bowls. Gently place the fish and potatoes on top of the spinach, breaking the fish into 2 pieces. Now pour the hot broth over everything and garnish with sesame seeds, serve.

Makes 4 servings.