Alan Takasaki

Chef/owner, Le Bistro, Niu Valley
Oven Steamed ‘Opakapaka

Photos:Oliver Konig

After years of managing restaurants
and nightclubs, cooking at restaurants and catering and a long search for a location,
Takasaki opened his Niu Valley restaurant in 2001, in a location that had been
unlucky for other notable chefs. “There was good food here before and good service;
to be honest, it’s been a lot of luck,” says Takasaki about his good fortune at
being named a Hale ‘Aina “little restaurant you love.

more than luck to Takasaki’s success in satisfying East Honolulu diners. Earthy,
satisfying flavors and inventive combinations based on classic principles are
his hallmarks, as seen in his foil-wrapped pouch of ‘öpakapaka, seasoned with
mushrooms, onions, herbs, jam and stock. The balance of savory and sweet flavors
against mild ‘öpakapaka is a natural match.

In a second dish, Takasaki
poached a whole weke’ula in a heavily seasoned broth over very low heat for over
an hour. The result: a flaky, moist, well seasoned fish that can be served as
an appetizer, cold or at room temperature.

Steamed ‘Opakapaka

portions of ‘opakapaka, about 6 ounces each (1 1/2 pounds total)
4 tablespoons
porcini duxelles [see tips section below]
Salt and pepper to taste
baby onions, peeled and blanched
16-20 small chanterelle mushrooms or other
2 leeks, blanched, layers pulled apart
4 bay leaves
4 pinches
of saffron
4 tablespoons quince jam
1/2 cup lobster stock
1/4 cup port
wine reduction

oven to 350°.

a pocket in the fish by cutting a horizontal slit in the middle of the fillet.
Place a tablespoon of duxelles in the center and close. Season fillet with salt
and pepper on both sides.

individual servings by placing a large square of aluminum foil in an 8-inch skillet.
Place onions and mushrooms in the center to form a bed for the fish. Place fish
on top of onions and mushrooms.

‘ula ready for poaching.

pieces of leeks on top of fish, forming a decorative pattern that serves as a
“skin” for the top. Place one bay leaf, a pinch of saffron, 1 tablespoon of quince
jam, 2 tablespoons lobster stock and 1 tablespoon port wine reduction in the packet.
Gather the top of the foil to seal the packet.

the four packets, then place them in a large skillet over high heat. When the
pan gets hot, place it in the preheated oven. Cook for about seven minutes, then
remove from oven and let sit about five minutes.

each packet and place the fish on a warm serving plate; cover to keep warm. Empty
the liquid from the foil pouch into a small saucepan and place over medium high
heat to reduce. When the liquid has thickened, drizzle over the fish and serve.
Garnish plate with zucchini fan, green and yellow beans, baby squash, finely diced
tomato or other vegetables.

Weke ‘Ula


1 whole weke
‘ula, cleaned, about 1 pound
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced leek
1/4 cup diced tomato
8-10 whole black
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons coarse salt

Weke ‘Ula

a layer of crumbled aluminum foil in the bottom of a pan the size of the fish.
Lay a piece of parchment paper over the foil. Place whole fish on top of parchment.
Place remaining ingredients over the fish and cover all with water. Place pan
on the stove top over low heat and cook for about an hour. Remove from heat, cool
and let stand overnight in refrigerator to marinate and pick up more flavors from
the broth.

serve, remove fish from the liquid and cut fillets from the bones. Serve chilled
with salad greens, sliced tomatoes or other chilled and cooked vegetables.

Takasaki’s tips:


is a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms cooked in butter with shallots and herbs
to form a thick paste. It can be made with any kind of mushroom. You could also
use a prepared mushroom paste.

place of lobster stock, you can also use chicken, seafood or vegetable stock.

place of port wine reduction, use white wine.

nice accent would be a relish of finely chopped tomatoes, capers, niçoise olives,
chives and olive oil.


Use any
small reef fish for this preparation.

looks like a lot of salt and vinegar, but you do need it to flavor this dish.