Opihi is a type of shellfish found in the rocky intertidal zones of Hawaii.
This delicacy is a favorite among locals, and tourists often go out of their way to try some.
But what does opihi taste like?
Is it good enough to justify the long lines and expensive price tags?
Let’s go over some basic information and some yummy details.
What is Opihi?
Opihi is a rough-shelled limpet. Unlike other limpets, opihi has a long, cone-shaped shell that bends inward at the top. They cling to the rocks with a muscular foot, which makes it hard to remove them without damaging their shells.
In Hawaii, people usually forage for them during the low tide when the intertidal zone is exposed. Some people crack the shells open and scoop out the flesh, while others cook them whole.
Opihi is about the size of a quarter, with a creamy, yellow foot and white meat inside.
It’s not only a culinary delight but also a treasured part of Hawaiian culture. Opihi is a traditional food source for Hawaiians, and they have been consuming them for centuries.
What Does Opihi Taste Like?
Opihi has a unique taste that is different from other mollusks and shellfish. It has a sweet taste with a touch of saltiness. A well-cooked opihi has a slightly crunchy texture, which contrasts with the creamy texture of the foot. Some people describe it as nutty, while others say it has a ‘faintly iodine-tasting sweetness’.
Some opihi lovers even say that it has a slight tang, like a fruity, sweet, and sour flavor.
However, there is no denying that opihi has an acquired taste.
Many people try it for the first time and spit it out in disgust. But some people acquire a taste after trying it a few times.
Most people who try opihi say that the flavor is mild, delicately sweet, and unique in taste.
How to Enjoy the Taste of Opihi?
Opihi is best cooked and served as a delicacy. But if you want to enjoy it raw, it must be rinsed thoroughly to remove sand, dirt, or any other debris.
Here are some ways to prepare opihi:
- Steam the Opihi: This is one of the most common ways to cook opihi – steaming or boiling it. You can get rid of the limpet’s strong taste by boiling it in water for a few minutes before cracking it open. The meat inside will have a creamy texture and a delicate flavor.
- Cook Opihi In Garlic Butter: This is a popular way to eat opihi in Hawaii. Sauteed in garlic butter gives opihi a unique taste and texture. The garlic adds a bit of tang to the naturally sweet opihi meat, and butter makes it rich and creamy. Garlic opihi can be eaten as an appetizer or included in a seafood dish.
- Opihi Ceviche: Opihi ceviche is a refreshing way to enjoy opihi. The raw opihi is marinated in lime juice for a few hours, along with garlic, cilantro, onions, and tomato. The lime juice “cooks” the raw meat and infuses it with a refreshing, tangy flavor.
- Opihi Poke: Opihi poke is mostly avaialble in Hawai, as you need fresh shells to prepare them. Poke is a dish that illustrates the distinct flavors and culinary traditions of the Hawaiian people. Opihi poke is uniquely Hawaii and a cultural favorite. The opihi meat is diced and then marinated with some of the other standard poke marinades, including green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili pepper.
- Opihi Omelette: This dish is a fusion of Western and Hawaiian cuisine. Add opihi to your omelette to have a unique twist on the traditional omelet. Fry your opihi in garlic butter and then mix it with some beaten eggs. Cook and flip your omelette, and you have a tasty breakfast.
Opihi has been an integral part of Hawaiian culture for centuries. Not only is it a beloved delicacy, but it also holds cultural and historical importance for the locals.
Opihi’s flavor profile is quite distinct, and it can be challenging for first-timers to grasp its unique taste. However, many opihi lovers think it is worth the acquired taste.
There are several ways to enjoy opihi beyond just eating it raw or steamed. Don’t be afraid to try some garlic butter opihi, an opihi poke, or even an opihi omelette.
But whatever way you choose to enjoy it, be sure to savor the unique flavor and cultural significance of this Hawaiian delicacy.
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.