Let’s Talk Food: Chef’s dinner featuring ta‘ape

  • Courtesy photo The team at Moon and Turtle.

  • Courtesy photo Ta‘ape sashimi was the first course.

  • Courtesy photo Ta‘ape confit was the third course.

  • Courtesy photo Ta‘ape ceviche was the second course.

  • Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson The fifth course, poached ta’ape with pho fume.

  • Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson The fourth course, katsu curry.

  • Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson The third course, ta‘ape confit.

  • Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson The second course, ta‘ape ceviche.

  • Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson The first course, ta‘ape sashimi.

  • Courtesy photo A five course ta‘ape dinner was held at Moon and Turtle in Hilo on Oct. 30.

Conservation International Hawaii, a local organization aimed at restoring Hawaii’s waters and promoting sustainable seafood, has partnered with Chef Hui to educate and encourage the community to eat ta‘ape, an invasive bluestripe snapper. It is rated as “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, the global leader in the sustainable seafood movement that helps consumers and businesses make choices that contribute to a healthier ocean

Sold out events were held on all islands and the five course ta‘ape dinner in Hilo was held on Oct. 30 at Moon and Turtle, presented by Chefs Mark Pomaski, Jayson Kanekoa for the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort &Spa, and up and coming son, Ocean Kanekoa.


On Maui, at the Papa‘aina at Pioneer Inn, Chef Lee Ann Wong hosted a four course prix fixe menu and one memorable dish was “kamaboko,” or fish cake made from ta‘ape.

The Kauai dinner was held at Mark’s Place in Lihue by Chef Mark Oyama, who offered sauteed ta‘ape on pork hash with black bean sauce on the menu throughout the month. Chef Oyama is a life-long fisherman and advocate for sustainable seafood and local agriculture.

On Oahu, Chef Ed Kenney, partnered with Ashley Watts of Local I‘a for a four-course prix fixe dinner at Mud Hen Water. Jhana Young, who is with Conservation International Hawaii, who sat at our table, said the dinner made many who attended feel very nostalgic of Chef Kenney’s former restaurant, Town, as many of the dishes were similar to the ones served there.

Also seated on our table was the fisherman who caught all the ta‘ape for the dinner, Noah Ah Chong. It was interesting to listen to his fishing stories.

The first course of the Hilo event was ta‘ape sashimi with preserved lemon, soy sauce, arugula, radish and parsley oil, with Chef Mark’s famous smoked soy sauce. Ta‘ape, with its white meat, is light in flavors so the combinations worked beautifully together.

The second course was ta‘ape ceviche with crispy tortilla, cilantro, Japanese cucumber, scallion, finger lime and papaya. It was wonderfully refreshing and well balanced with the sourness of the lime and the sweetness of the cucumbers and papaya.

The third course was ta‘ape confit with luau leaf puree, taro hash, ta‘ape demi and lomi tomato. This dish reminded me of good local comfort food, the kind of dish you would crave after being away for a while.

Fourth course was katsu curry with Hamakua mushrooms, sweet corn, fried rice, Nakamura curry and pickled heart of palm.

This dish was a take-off of a great Japanese curry except the katsu was a filet of ta‘ape. The pickled heart of palm was perfectly pickled, with the combination of flavors similar to the Tokyo-zuke served with Japanese curry and rice.

The fifth course was poached ta‘ape with pho fume, braised daikon and fennel. It was a take-off of the Vietnamese pho with the broth of the aromas of star anise and nuoc cham or Vietnamese fish sauce. It was a great tribute to Chef Mark’s Vietnamese heritage.

One of the recipes for ta‘ape is Peruvian-Style ta‘ape ceviche by Chef Mark Noguchi or Chef Hui.

Peruvian-Style Ta‘ape Ceviche

3 pounds whole ta‘ape – to make one pound of filleted fish

6 cloves garlic

1 cucumber, deseeded and diced or bias cut

1/2 red onion, sliced paper thin

1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced

2 oranges, juiced

5 limes, juiced

1 Jalapeno chile, deseeded and diced

2 cups Peruvian corn, toasted

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Scale, gut, and cut ta‘ape into boneless skinless fillets. Remove the skin and dice into small cubes making sure to remove any pin bones.

Use a mortar and pestle (suribachi) to pound the garlic, with a good dose of salt, and lime juice, into a fine consistency.

NOTE: Grinding or pureeing garlic prevents the harsh enzymes from releasing into the air. It makes a mellower taste.

Spoon orange juice and lime juice into the garlic,

Combine all ingredients together and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Serve cold and enjoy!

Foodie bites

Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Program is now taking pre-orders for Thanksgiving. Pick up will be on Wednesday, Nov. 24, from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Cash, credit cards and debit cards will be accepted the day of pick-up. Please bring a box or bag. Call 808-934-2559 from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

The Turkey Plate is $13.95 which includes roast turkey, gravy, baked ham, dressing, cranberry sauce, steam rice, fresh baked rolls and pumpkin crunch.

The Grilled striploin steak plate is $14.95 and includes an 8-ounce striploin steak, steamed rice, corn, and fresh baked roll.

A 9-inch whole pumpkin pie is $10.95.

The Cafeteria and Da ‘Ohana Corner are open for take-out orders. Call 808-934-2559 for Cafeteria orders, 808-934-2591 for cafe orders.


Auwe! Last week’s recipe for purple sweet potato haupia cheesecake, I forgot the baking time! It’s 350 degrees for one hour.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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