There’s a silly tune done by Hawaii comedian Frank Delima that goes something like this… “Please don’t eat me! I just one small opihi…” Whenever that song comes to mind, I am back in my childhood days when gathering these shoreline gastropods meant an outing which was more fun (to me anyway) than work (to my father).
The photo shows fresh opihi (limpets), and by fresh I mean that they MOVED when prodded with a chopstick. Now this is where non-islanders might exclaim “Yuk!” and wonder how is it even possible to eat such a thing. Traditionally, opihi is devoured raw, scooped right out of the shell or used in a raw fish salad called poke (po-keh). The hawaiian word translates “to cut into small pieces” and anything goes when it comes to preparing this island delicacy – raw pacific tuna, cooked octopus, opihi, sea snails, squid, crab, or whatever is desired, along with the addition of seasonings and often bits of seaweed. Poke is something that visitors should try for a true ‘Hawaii dining experience’, because with the many varieties there are to this dish, coming here and not tasting it is like planning a trip to Hawaii and not going to the beach. But getting back to how I ate it… well, I chickened out and ended up cooking them briefly with a bit of salted water, sliced onions, and hawaiian chili pepper. A sacrilege for true opihi eaters but geez…that song was playing in my head! Auwe!