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Catch of the Day: Roi, Kole, Uhu, Menpachi, Kala, To’au, Knifejaw & Broomfish

As you regular readers here know, my regular place to exercise — namely swim — is Diamond Head Beach, where I often run across local skin divers bringing up some pretty nice catch. This past few weeks were no exception. Check it out.

Uhu, Roi, Menpachi and Kole caught off Diamond Head (legal side) on 2.5.17. (in case you don’t know the scale compared to the truck’s tailgate, those two Uhu are HUGE!!!)

Roi, a.k.a. Peacock Grouper, caught off Diamond on 2.5.17. What’s interesting was, when I met the guy who caught these Roi, he didn’t exactly have very choice words to say about them, pretty much calling them the “F” word, being they’re an invasive species and very aggressive to our reef system, preying on many of our ideal native fish.

Menpachi, a.k.a. Soldierfish, with a Peacock Grouper, a.k.a. Roi next to it, caught off Diamond Head on 2.5.17

Kole, a.k.a. Spotted Surgeonfish, caught off Diamond Head on 2.5.17

Uhu, a.k.a.Parrotfish (red female), caught off Diamond Head on 2.5.17

Braddah Brian with his fresh catch off Diamond Head yesterday, 2.17.17… 3 hours worth of “work”! Note, he kept that MASSIVE Morey Eel for bait

Brian’s fresh catch zoomed in

Brian’s fresh catch zoomed in (angle B)

Spotted Knifejaw Fish caught off Diamond Head on 2.17.17 (Brian said this buggah is AWESOME EATING AS <white flesh> SASHIMI!)

Broomfish, a.k.a. Scrawled Filefish, caught off Diamond Head on 2.17.17 (note, it gets its name “Broomfish” from its long broom-like tail)

Kala, a.k.a. Bluespine Unicornfish caught off Diamond Head on 2.17.17 (divers bring up this fish often out here)

To’au, a.k.a. Blacktail Snapper, caught off Diamond Head on 2.17.17 (another invasive species to Hawaii,  yet very good eats!)

Uhu, a.k.a. Parrotfish (red female), caught off Diamond Head on 2.17.17

Red Uhu’s jaws…*to the tune of the sound score from the movie ‘JAWS’ * da dunt… da dunt… da dunt… dunt dunt dunt dunt dunt lol

Uhu, a.k.a. Parrotfish (blue male), caught off Diamond Head on 2.17.17

While considered an herbivore, the crusher-like teeth of an Uhu are also designed for chewing on coral, which contribute to making sand!

The Tasty Island related links:
Another Day at the Office
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou 2016
Steamed To’au by Diner E
Dry Aku & Poi
Smoked Tako 4 + 3 Ways
Time for Tako Poke
Kakaako Eats: The Poke Bowl

P.S. As a preview to an upcoming post on a recent visit to Sea Life Park out in Makapu’u, here’s a baby Honu (Hawaiian Sea Turtle) I met there!…

Baby Honu (Hawaiian Sea Turtle; and yes, it’s real and very much alive!) at Sea Life Park ~ 2.14.14

The baby Honu (Hawaiian Sea Turtle) at Sea Life Park are simply numbered, being they have so many of them, which they raise on the premises until they’re about 2 years old, then they let them back into the sea. SLP says the Hawaiian Sea Turtles’ survival rate raising them to a juvenile age, then letting them go is about 1 out of 4, vs. from hatchlings in the wild when it’s 1 in 1000 survival rate


9 thoughts on “Catch of the Day: Roi, Kole, Uhu, Menpachi, Kala, To’au, Knifejaw & Broomfish

  • February 18, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Roi would be better received if it wasn’t eating all the surgeon fish (kole, kala, palani. 25 in all)  and the beloved Uhu.  Plus eating it is  Russian roulette for ciguatera poisoning.  It is supposed to be really good to eat. I don’t know of a person who has eaten it from Hawaii.

    • February 18, 2017 at 11:27 am


      The guy who caught the Roi said it’s actually really tasty. Didn’t ask  how he prepared it. Most divers I talk to about cooking the fish they catcch say they fry ’em. Diner E said the best fish he ever ate was Akule pan-fried in pork lard. He swears by that method!

      Personally, I like my whole fish steamed with choke ginger and some garlic, small ‘kine sesame or peanut oil, green onion, and if stay get, Lup Cheong!

  • February 18, 2017 at 8:10 pm


    One of the problems I’m trying to work out is Pacific Ocean fish is not what most of the major culinary arts cookbooks cover especially Culinary Institute of Arts (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York in the cook book recipes. They mainly cover some nearshore west coast Pacific Ocean seafood, east coast Atlantic Ocean, Canada, Alaska and European near shore seafood.

    • February 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm


      I don’t think most fish recipes necessarily need to be specific to any particular species or ocean region. Especially if it’s a cooked fish recipe (not raw). Like the Chinese method I like, which is the whole fish, steamed with ginger, garlic, sesame oil and Lup Cheong (if available) is quite universal for any white-fleshed saltwater fish, no matter where it’s caught. Even if the fish is too big to be cooked whole, you could still prepare it that way from the skin-on fillet.

      Perfect example are “Catch of the Day” listings on a restaurant menu, which always doesn’t indicate exactly which fish for obvious reason, yet does explain how it will be prepared. So it could be Opakapaka or Monchong on one day, which are open water pacific fish, or it could be Uhu on another day, which are near-shore reef fish. They all could be prepared using the same recipe, just the cut will look different because of the difference in size and anatomy. And of course the taste will vary a bit, especially depending on fat content, but they’re all white-fleshed saltwater fish, so the result will be all that more interesting!

      So I’m sure your CIA cookbook (or whatever other cookbooks you have) fish recipes could be applied to these white-fleshed Hawaiian reef fish as well.

      Obviously, if you’re talking something specific like a recipe for Butterfish or Ahi served raw, then yeah, you need to use those fish.

      Try dig up your Sam Choy’s cookbook “The Choy of Cooking”, his first cookbook (one of my favorite and most used cookbooks!). In there is a whole chapter on cooking these type of Hawaiian fish (including the invasive ones if you have it), and a perfect example of what I just mentioned.

      While I’m not a trained chef, I’m pretty confident in what I just said, based both on common sense in the kitchen, personal dining and cooking experience, plus the hundreds of cooking shows I’ve watched over the years on the Food Network, PBS (Great Chefs of the World rules!) and local stations (Cooking Hawaiian Style, Sam Choy’s Kitchen, Chai’s Kitchen and Hawaii’s Kitchen).

  • February 19, 2017 at 7:39 pm


    I think these fish you highlighted are reef fish near shore fish.

    I have 2 Sam Choy cookbooks (1 strictly seafood), 1 Alan Wong”s cookbook, 1 Ben Wong cookbook on Hawaii fish, 1 Roy Yamaguchi cookbook, the full series “What Hawaii Likes to Cook”, plus seafood cookbooks from Alaska, Japan, Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc, etc!

    I can’t find these fish and best way to cook them for full flavor.

    Are they white flesh, pink or red flesh? Firm or soft flesh? Are they sweet, dry or oily?

    • February 20, 2017 at 8:02 am


      Yes, these were all caught near-shore off Diamond Head over the reef, more towards the drop-off (hence Brian notes he often has sharks follow him).

      Uhu (Parrotfish) is pinkish-white, similar to Mahi Mahi. While I’ve never seen Knifejaw or Broomfish flesh, according to Brian, it’s white. Same for To’au. I’ve never tried white-fleshed reef fish as Sashimi, however according to Brian who caught these, the Knifejaw Fish in particular is awesome eaten raw with Shoyu like that. Must be fairly fatty.

      If you haven’t tried it yet, next time you go to the market, look for Monchong. It’s a white-fleshed Pacific open ocean fish that’s usually by-catch from long line boats catching Ahi. Very similar to Opah (Moonfish). White flesh, super fatty (oily) and super TASTY AWESOME! Monchong is by far my favorite cooked fish!

      • February 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm


        Well.now I know why your celebrity chefs are not using these fish and it goes along with what Pat said in first reply. Eating Roi is like playing Russian Roulette.

        So far the poison “ciguactera” has no antidote and depending how much Roi you ate, you may be sick for 1 hr, 3 hrs, 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year or 3 years and beyond or even worse dead!

        Roi (Peacock Grouper) was first introduced to Hawaii from French Polynesian in 1950s to increase seafood supply. Instead of helping the food supply, Roi started eating up the food supply. They eat over 150 other fish and crustaceans a day.

        A myth was created that says more fish on the Leeward Side have the poison “ciguactera” than any other side of the islands. University of Hawaii and NOAA dispelled that myth by mapping out caught fish and testing them for the poison  (poison test kit cost $11/fish). What the many years study determined was there is equal distribution of “ciguactera” infected fish around each of the islands.

        Thank you but like a good old Yankee New Englander, I’ll limit my fish intake to what is sold in the stores and commercially caught or commercial you farmed.


        • February 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm


          Yes, Ciguatera is a problem with a select few of the fish caught in our waters.

          A person on this skin diver message board says this: “In Hawaii there a few fish that have been accused of getting people sick from the ciguatea toxin. Some of these include: Ulua (Giant Trevelly), Uku (Green Jobfish), Kole (Yelloweye Surgeon fish), Roi (Blue spot Grouper), Kaku (Barracuda), Palani (Eye Stripe Surgeon fish), Pualu (Ringtail Surgeaon fish), Wahanui (Small Tooth Jobfish), and even Uhu (Parrot Fish). In my opinion some areas are high risk while some are low. Seems that summer in those high risk areas seem to have the most reports of people getting sick year after year. They sell the Cigua-check test kit now, but is expensive and time consuming. I have friends/family who have gotten very ill some so bad they stopped eating reef fish all together. I have never gotten sick (knock on wood) but I must admit, while eating the twenty pound Uku I shot last week it did cross my mind.”

          If you read through more on that diving message board thread, there’s lots of great information about toxins in fish and how it spreads from what sounds like very knowledgeable fishermen. Not just Ciguatera, but also chemical agents released by the military and mercury.

          Monchong, a.k.a. Deep Sea Sickle Pomfret is NOT known to carry ciguatera, and is in fact a commercially sold fish many restaurants get direct from the Honolulu Fish Auction Block. You can sometimes also find Monchong fillets in Costco, along with Opah. Relatively cheap too, at around $8/pound. Sometimes less! Other places you’ll find Monchong, as well as Uhu, another “safe” fish (in most cases) are Don Quijote and I’m sure Tamura’s out by where you live. Not as likely you’ll find “unusual” fish like that in Foodland or Safeway.

          Here’s a Monchong dish from Roy’s Waikiki…

          Macadamia Nut Crusted Monchong with Main Lobster Cream Sauce

          This is Monchong I prepared at home…

          Monchong “money shot”…


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