Friday, October 24, 2008


I just got in a side of Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) for dinner tonight. Wahoo, also known by its Hawaiian name Ono, is a long, slender fish that resemebles a barracuda or mackerel. It has sweet, firm white flesh that is generally cut into steaks. The 11-pound/5-kg portion you see here came off of a fish of about 25-30 pounds.

I put Wahoo on my menu as a sustainble replacement for Swordfish, which I don't sell at all if I can avoid it. I have only served Sword twice in the past six years, simply because I couldn't get anything else in an emergency. Very fresh Wahoo makes great sushi and it dries out when you cook it, so have a gentle hand with it. I cook mine about medium. Cooking any steakfish well done is a no-no.

Here's the flesh side of the Wahoo filet. Note the three white lines of membranes running horizontally along the fish and note the separation of the flesh in the lower right-hand corner. ideally, Wahoo should show no separation of flesh; any more separation than this and I would have rejected this fish. Before I proceed, let me apologize for these terrible photos. I finally figured out how to get my camera in full manual mode and what I don't know about photography would fill a library.

Before cutting the Wahoo into steaks, I need to pull the two loins off the filet. To start, I cut down the left side of the center membrane, all the way down to but not through the skin.

Once I cut down to the skin, I turn my knife blade parallel to the cutting board and slide it between the skin and the flesh, working from one end to the other. This is actually harder than I make it appear; it does take practice.

Once I remove the loin on the left side, I do the same thing with the loin on the right side. In this photo you see that I have cut down the right side of the center membrane and am about to remove the other loin from the skin.

Once the loins are off the skin, I separate the center of the loin from the tough membrane running lenthwise along the loin. Although I show using a knife here, I normally just slide my fingers along the membrane to separate the center of the loin from the scrap. The scrap gets trimmed of membranes and goes into staff meals. Only the center of the loin goes into customer dinners; now you know why fish is so expensive: we get precious little yield from a fish.

Now that I have isolated the center of the loin, I trim any remaining bloodline and any ligaments from the loin. The ligaments are most prevalent back towards the tail. After final trimming, I cut the fish into steaks. Here they are, all ready for the grill.

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