Jan 15, 2014

EHU... Hawaiian Red Snapper

Ehu... Hawaiian Red Snapper
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The peak season for the Ehu is during the winter here in Hawaii. It is a beautiful bright red-orange fish with a thin lateral yellow stripe along its body. It lives 700 to 1,000 feet below the surface in the deep reefs around the islands. They typically weigh from 1 pound to over 10 pounds and can measure up to 2 feet in length and are caught mostly by hook and line. The pink flesh of the Ehu turns white when cooked. Its texture is soft, and its flavor is delicate.

Ehu, Steamed with Ginger, Scallions, and Soy
The locals here on Moloka'i usually either steam Ehu or they fry it, I like either way, however I think steaming Ehu makes a better presentation. There is an art to steaming fish. A perfectly steamed fish has flesh that is just cooked at the bone, never dry. The following recipe is the classic Chinese preparation, the Ehu is topped with scallions, cilantro and ginger, then hot oil is poured over it, which releases the flavor of the aromatics into the flesh of the fish.

2 (1 1/2-pound) whole Ehu, cleaned with head and tail removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3- 1-inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
1/3 cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, julienned
8 cilantro sprigs
2/3 cup canola oil
4 lime wedges

Rinse the cleaned fish in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the fish on a heatproof plate that is both large enough to accommodate it (a glass pie plate works well) and will also fit inside your steamer (or wok), bending the fish slightly if it is too long. Stuff half of the ginger inside the cavity of the fish and spread the remaining ginger on top of the fish.

Pour water into a wok or stockpot and set a steamer in the wok or on the rim of the stockpot. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the steamer. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Place the plate holding the fish in the steamer, cover, and steam for about 10 minutes, until the fish flakes easily when tested with the tip of a knife.

While the fish is steaming, in a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, wine, and 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside.

When the fish is ready, carefully remove the plate from the steamer and pour off any accumulated liquid. Lay the scallion and cilantro along the top of the fish. In a small pot, heat the oil over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Remove the oil from the heat and pour it directly over the scallion and cilantro to "cook" them. Drizzle the soy mixture over the fish and serve immediately with lime wedges, brown rice, and snow peas. Note: This fish has a lot of bones, so do a good job removing them before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Onaga & Leek Stew
Onaga is the beautiful ruby snapper found in Hawaii waters, however you can use Ehu or regular red snapper, sea bass, or similar firm white meat fish for this recipe.

1, 3 pound onaga (Hawaiian ruby snapper), cleaned, gutted and scaled, head removed (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
juice of 3 lemons
2/3 cup olive oil
2 1/2 pounds leeks, white and tender green parts cut into 2-inch lengths
2 cups water
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Place the cleaned fish on a platter and sprinkle with salt, pepper and one third of the lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a large, wide pot and place the leeks in the pot. Cover and steam in the oil over low heat, turning them occasionally until lightly caramelized, about 25 minutes.

Place the fish over the leeks, add the water, cover and simmer over low heat until the fish is fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Make the egg-lemon sauce: Separate the egg yolks and whites. Beat the whites vigorously until foamy and nearly stiff. Beat the egg yolks with the remaining lemon juice and then whisk into the whites. Add a ladleful of the pot juices to the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the while. Pour the sauce into the pot and tilt the pot to distribute it evenly. Pour in the remaining olive oil and serve. Makes 4 servings.

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