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The Fish Market

Get a Sweet Deal When You Opt for the Wahoo

August 14, 1986|ISAAC CRONIN and PAUL JOHNSON | Cronin and Johnson are co-authors of "The California Seafood Cookbook."

The wahoo is the largest member of the mackerel family, sometimes attaining a weight of 125 pounds. It is found in the open ocean in all temperate and tropical seas of the world. Highly esteemed by anglers for its speed, fighting qualities and excellent flavor, it is much sought after, particularly in the Hawaiian islands and the Gulf of Mexico.

Unlike other members of the mackerel family, the flesh of the wahoo is white with fine texture and a delicate flake. It is a lean fish and has very little dark meat. In the Hawaiian islands, where this fish is used for sashimi as well as being cooked, it is referred to as ono , which means sweet. This is an accurate description of the excellent flavor of this fish.

The cigar-like body of the wahoo is ideal for steaks, but the simple bone structure makes it an easy fish to fillet even for the neophyte. The firm flesh of the wahoo is ideal for charcoal grilling or broiling but is equally as delicious if prepared by other methods of cooking, from deep-frying to poaching. It is also ideal for raw seafood preparations since it comes from the clean waters of the open ocean.

This Moroccan recipe comes from Bruce Cost's "Ginger East to West" (Aris/Harris: 1984). You can use any mild-flavored, white-fleshed fish.


2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 bunch cilantro

1 chile

4 cloves garlic

1 (1-inch) cube ginger root

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup olive oil or peanut oil

2 pounds wahoo fillets

1/4 cup pitted and chopped green olives

1 lemon, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lightly chopped mint leaves

Toast cumin seeds in dry skillet until fragrant. Add cumin to food processor or blender container with cilantro, chile, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, water, paprika, salt and sugar. Blend to fine paste. Remove paste to bowl and gently stir in oil.

Pour marinade over fish in large bowl and let stand at least 1 hour in refrigerator. Grill fish over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes per side, basting with 1/4 cup marinade. Heat remaining marinade and add olives, lemon slices and mint. Transfer fish to serving platter and pour hot marinade over. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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