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Another important indigenous food, opihi, was likely one of the most commonly eaten shellfish in ancient Hawaii. While traditionally enjoyed in its entirety, I prefer to remove the liver and other organs, leaving just the clean, shucked mussel. This extra step makes the opihi much more palatable, like a young abalone or clam. Again, please be respectful of local tradition before attempting to harvest opihi on your own. Many experienced harvesters have been washed from the rocks by rogue waves in pursuit of these tasty morsels.

These small black crabs that speckle the rocky outcroppings along the coast are an ancient staple of Hawaiian cuisine. The meat, what there is of it, is sweet and briny with the subtle aromas of seaweed and cucumber. Due to the daunting amount of effort required to remove even a meager amount of meat I prefer to incorporate the crab into a dressing for a green mango salad, where its distinctive flavor and salinity complement the sharp acidity of the mango. As with any wild resource, always seek permission before gathering these local delicacies.

20 fresh harvested opihi (between a quarter and half dollar in size) 4 cups Aloha shoyu 2 cups brown sugar 4 tablespoons Sriracha chile 1 lime leaf 1 small knob of ginger, crushed 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro 2 tablespoons chopped mint 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice Remove the opihi from their shells. Using a sharp knife, separate the meat and organs—discarding the organs. Clean the shells with a wire brush, removing as much seaweed and dirt as possible. Return the cleaned opihi to their shells. Put the shoyu and brown sugar into a 2-quart saucepan with the Sriracha, lime leaf and ginger; reduce by half, until large bubbles start to form. Add the fresh lime and orange juice followed by the chopped cilantro and mint.

Put the crabmeat, chile peppers, chopped ginger, garlic and cane sugar in a mortar. Aggressively mix with a pestle to form a coarse paste. Add the lime and orange juice. Peel the unripe mango and cut the meat away from the oblong seed. Discard the seed and slice the mango as thinly as possible, either with a sharp knife or handheld slicer.

Combine the herb leaves and shaved mango, then gently dress with the black crab dressing.

Put the opihi with sauce into refrigerator and allow to marinate for one hour. Place the opihi, shell side down, on a woodfired grill. Cook just until the marinade starts to bubble, then remove and eat like an oyster.

Summer 2008

With a small knife, make an incision on the underside of the crab just below the eyes. Using scissors, remove the legs and cut in half to remove flesh. Reserve the crabmeat and discard the shells. Some additional meat can be found by removing the lower shell and scraping along the gills.

Remove the stems from the herb leaves.

Cool this mixture slightly and spoon over each opihi.


5 large live A’ama crabs 2 Hawaiian chile peppers 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger 2 cloves of garlic 1 teaspoon cane sugar 2 tablespoons lime juice 4 tablespoons orange juice ¼ cup fresh mint leaves ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves ¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves 2 large mangos (still firm)

edible hawaiian islands

edible Hawaiian Islands Summer 2008  

Summer 2008