Megan VanDyke

Pan Seared Opah with Lemongrass Couscous

Megan VanDyke
Pan Seared Opah with Lemongrass Couscous

Do you ever think about what the fish you eat looks like? I mean if you're not catching it yourself. Growing up I knew exactly what the fish we ate looked like, because I watched my grandpa reel most of them in. I never had the patience for fishing, watching the bobber, roasting in the hot Michigan summer sun, only to pull in a two-inch long bluegill. No thanks. Now that we live in the Pacific Northwest, we find that we not only eat more fish, but more variety.

I like to google image search the fish I buy at the market. Most of the time, the ugliest fish are the tastiest. Halibut is a prime example. This buttery deliciousness is a bottom dweller with both eyes on one side of it's body. Super weird looking. When I bought opah steaks, I assumed the fish would be the same; an ugly gray bottom dweller. Whoa was I surprised! Opah, also known as moonfish or sunfish, are so cool! A huge fish with bright red fins and a really beautiful pattern on their scales. I'm guessing they hang out more towards the surface and instead of blending into the rocks and sand, they need to blend into the reflecting sun.

Opah also tastes delicious. Meaty like tuna, but buttery like halibut, it's the perfect fresh spring meal. Start by preparing the couscous. Lemongrass adds a great flavor component to this couscous, but can be tricky to work with. It is very fibrous, and the outer layers must be removed. Peel several layers of the lemongrass away, until you are left with the more tender inner stalk. Mince or grate about 1/4 cup of lemongrass for the couscous. Discard any larger pieces of lemongrass, as these will not soften and will be difficult to eat.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add 1 minced shallot and saute a few minutes or until softened. Add a clove of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 1 minced jalapeño pepper, and the minced or grated lemongrass. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.

Add 1 cup of Israeli couscous to the pan. You can use regular couscous, but I prefer the larger size of Israeli couscous. Stir to toast the pasta slightly, and add 1 3/4 cup of chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the pasta to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until tender and the liquid has absorbed; about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro. Cover to keep warm.

For the mango salsa, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small pan. Combine 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 1 finely diced shallot, 1 minced jalapeño and cook until softened. Add the juice of one orange, 1 diced mango, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 tablespoon of fresh mint. Cook over low heat until softened and flavors have combined. Cover to keep warm.

To prepare the fish, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a non stick pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish. When the pan is hot, add the fish and cook until browned and crispy on both sides and internal temperature registers at least 145 degrees; about 5-7 minutes per side.

Serve the fish with couscous and mango salsa for a light fresh dinner.


Pan Seared Opah with Lemongrass Couscous

By , April 25, 2015
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Yield: 2 servings
Meaty and buttery, opah or moonfish is delicious with a light couscous and mango salsa. opah, couscous, lemongrass, mango


  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger, divided
  • 2 shallots, minced, divided
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic, divided
  • 2 jalapenos, minced, divided
  • 1/4 cup of minced fresh lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 3/4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 mango, diced
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, finely minced
  • 1 lb fresh opah or similar firm fleshed fish (tuna, swordfish, etc)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a medium sized stockpot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat
  2. Saute 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 1 minced shallot, 1 minced jalapeno, and 1 clove of minced garlic until softened
  3. Peel the tough outer layer from the lemongrass and finely mince or grate the inner stalks, add to the pan
  4. Stir in sesame oil, and couscous, cook 1-2 minutes to toast the pasta
  5. Add the juice of 1 lime and 1 3/4 cups of chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender and liquid has been absorbed
  6. Stir in fresh chopped cilantro and cover to keep warm
  7. In a small saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  8. Saute 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1 minced shallot, 1 minced jalapeno, and 1 clove of minced garlic until softened
  9. Add diced mango, the juice of 1 orange, 1 tablespoon of honey and cook until mango has softened and orange juice is reduced
  10. Remove from heat and stir in fresh mint
  11. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat
  12. Season fish with salt and pepper and sear in pan, 4-6 minutes per side or until internal temperature of opah is 145 degrees
  13. Serve warm couscous topped with fish and warm mango salsa

Sharing our culinary adventures in Cascadia with simple, sustainable & satisfying eats. Bon Appétit!