Little Lesson on Opihi (Hawaiian Limpet)

Posted: January 28, 2009 by Nathan Kam in Eating and Drinking, Hawaiian Islands
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Opihi is a Hawaii delicacy and one of the most dangerous to pick.

Opihi is a Hawaii delicacy and one of the most dangerous to pick.

GOT OPIHI? If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend you experience it at least once in your lifetime. It’s an acquired taste (like eating the ocean) and texture (kind of crunchy or rubbery), but rich, delicious goodness that’s perfect with beer if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on it. The Maui Ocean Center does a good job explaining just what this little treasure is.

My buddy Brad surprised us the other night when he brought a bag of it over to our place for our potluck dinner. He’s found a secret spot on Oahu that’s ripe with these tasty limpets. In the following video, he describes how to eat it and the difference between the black and yellow types.

It also reminded me of one of my favorite songs by the Kaau Crater Boys titled “Opihi Man.” The lyrics give a playful hint about the dangers of going after this delicacy. It’s really a gamble with Mother Nature, but those who brave the waves and find these treasures, are usually the heros of any paina (party).

Sounds like thunder, gotta head for the high ground
White water coming, no foolin` around
Opihi man in the sun. Opihi man grab your bag and run
Opihi man another swell is coming your way
Opihi man another swell is coming your way

Gotta fill up your bag, with the yellow and black
Keep your eye on the wave, don`t ever turn your back
Opihi man in the sun. Opihi man grab your bag and run
Opihi man another swell is coming your way
Opihi man another swell is coming your way

Like the crab on the rock, you gotta run real fast
Keep your eye on the wave, don`t ever turn your back
Opihi man in the sun. Opihi man grab your bag and run
Opihi man another swell is coming your way
Opihi man another swell is coming your way

BON APPETIT!

-NGK

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Comments
  1. I sang at a Hawaiian wedding and they had an authentic Hawaiian luau afterwards
    (not da kine food the tourists get).
    I tried many of the foods that were there.
    You are right about the opihi…it did taste like the ocean.
    I was not prepared for the taste, as I had never tasted anything like this before.
    I was told that it was very nutritious AND quite expensive.

  2. Melissa says:

    Funny, it looks so unappetizing like that. So which do YOU prefer? Also do you think this qualifies for local bizarre food?

  3. Very cool video. Not a particular fan of opihi myself but neat to see!

  4. Kona Grandma says:

    Nath, I never revealed the location. If you’re thinking Makalawena…wrong. Only folks already familiar with the area know. KS owns so much land on the BI. Once access goes public, the opihi will shrink to the size in your video, in no time. :-)

  5. Nathan says:

    Dan: We definitely need to jam on the 8th floor one day. I can be the “roadie.” ;-)

    Kona Grandma: You probably just made the day for many ophihi lovers on the Big Island. Those won’t be there for long.

  6. Kona Grandma says:

    While touring ocean front property owned by Kamehameha Schools on the S. Kohala Coast in December, I saw a mass of Opihi, two or three times the size of those in the video, scattered all over a huge rock in one of the inlets. I had to ask what that was, they were so huge. BTW, public access to the site is in the works.

  7. Dan Zelikman says:

    Thanks for the post! Jack actually plays this on ukulele and with your post I was inspired to learn the song!

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