Ahi Recipes from Hawaii Chefs and Fishmongers

Those with access to the freshest ahi eat it the way you’d expect: raw. But we coaxed from local fishmongers, a chef and an auctioneer some favorite home-style preparations, most involving less-used parts of the fish. Measurements? There are none. All the recipes are simple, straightforward and prepared to taste.

Ahi Kama Nitsuke

Hatsuko Nakazato, Nakazato Fish Market
An old-style Japanese preparation, simmered ahi kama, or collar, is a favorite dish of fishing families. ahi collars can get quite large and need to be chopped up. With bigeye tuna especially, this recipe involves sizeable eye sockets and is not for the faint of heart. When cooked, ahi collars release a good bit of gelatinous material. Try this only if you love full-flavored, fatty fish and don’t mind assorted textures.

  • Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add kama pieces and parboil for five minutes, then throw out the water. Meanwhile, peel a daikon turnip, cut it into large chunks and parboil in another pot.
  • Put the ahi pot back onto medium-high heat. In the pot, splash a small amount of rice vinegar onto the fish and salt the pieces. Then add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot and equal parts of soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake (a pound and a half of ahi kama takes about ¼ cup of each) and a few pieces of ginger. Add the daikon to the pot, cover. Reduce heat to a simmer when mixture comes to a boil. The dish is done when the daikon is soft throughout. Serve over somen noodles and spoon extra broth over the fish.
     

Black and Blue Ahi

Nico Chaize, Nico’s Pier 38
Rub ahi steaks on both sides with Cajun spices. Get a cast-iron skillet smoking hot on high heat, sear ahi for three seconds on each side, serve.

“Simple,” says Chaize, “and always so good. I make this at home all the time.”
 

Ahi Tartare

Nico Chaize, Nico’s at Pier 38
Scrape the meat off the bones of a side of ahi and mix with small amounts of finely diced onion, chopped capers, a tiny bit of lemon zest, some French mustard, a few drops of Tabasco sauce, some truffle oil or truffle salt and olive oil, and salt and pepper, all to taste. “The flavor of truffle oil on ahi,” Chaize says, “is incredible.”
 

Ahi Belly

Taketoshi Gibo, Take’s Fish Market
Dredge ahi belly in katakuriko, or potato starch, that’s been seasoned with salt and pepper and pan-fry over medium heat. All you need after that, says Gibo, is a little soy or a squeeze of lemon.
 

Ahi Bones

Brooks Takenaka, United Fishing Agency
Leave some meat on the bones, chop them up, season with Hawaiian salt or garlic salt and pepper, pan-fry.

Takenaka, assistant general manager of the United Fishing Agency, is the son and grandson of fishermen. “My father used to make all kinds of stuff,” he says. “Food always tastes better out there on the ocean.”
 

Garlic-Fried ahi Steaks

Burt Yonemoto, Marukai
Finely chop garlic, mix in some Chinese five-spice and rub on both sides of an ahi steak. Pan-fry in sesame oil on medium heat to desired degree of doneness. “My wife doesn’t like it raw,” says Yonemoto, manager and buyer of Marukai’s fish department. “I cook it through, a few minutes on each side.”
 

Ahi Kama Nitsuke

Hatsuko Nakazato, Nakazato Fish Market
An old-style Japanese preparation, simmered ahi kama, or collar, is a favorite dish of fishing families. Ahi collars can get quite large and need to be chopped up. With bigeye tuna especially, this recipe involves sizeable eye sockets and is not for the faint of heart. When cooked, ahi collars release a good bit of gelatinous material. Try this only if you love full-flavored, fatty fish and don’t mind assorted textures.

  • Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add kama pieces and parboil for five minutes, then throw out the water. Meanwhile, peel a daikon turnip, cut it into large chunks and parboil in another pot.
  • Put the ahi pot back onto a medium-high heat. In the pot, splash a small amount of rice vinegar onto the fish and salt the pieces. Then add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot and equal parts of soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake (a pound and a half of ahi kama takes about ¼ cup of each) and a few pieces of ginger. Add the daikon to the pot, cover. Reduce heat to a simmer when mixture comes to a boil. The dish is done when the daikon is soft throughout. Serve over somen noodles and spoon extra broth over the fish.