Serving Hawaii Seafood On Nob Hill

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - September 28, 2005
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Hawaiian Sunfish With Saffron Orzo and Mango Salsa from the Top of the Mark in San Francisco
Hawaiian Sunfish With Saffron Orzo and Mango Salsa
from the Top of the Mark in San Francisco

San Francisco and Hawaii have a remarkable food connection!

Perched regally atop Nob Hill, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco is a famed historical landmark. This elegant hotel has had extensive renovations and has been exquisitely restored.

On a recent trip there, I was impressed by the attention to detail and service that the hotel offers, especially the Club Lounge, which features stylish food and beverage presentations throughout the day.

The hotel is home to the legendary Top Of The Mark, a glass-walled restaurant and cocktail lounge with a 360 degree view of the city, and a “must see” destination for visitors from all over the world.

Executive chef Clayton Van Hooijdonk orchestrates the exceptional menu, and the Sunset Dinner and Sunday Champagne Brunch are highlights of the restaurant.

It was at the Sunset Dinner that I met executive sous chef Gregg Bosnak, who was gracious enough to speak with me about the seafood dish that I was enjoying, and informed me that the fish was flown in from the Honolulu Fish Company!

Gregg has more than 20 years of experience and has traveled to places where he could also fulfill his desire for deep-sea fishing, so he has an appreciation and understanding of the meaning of “fresh seafood.”

The Honolulu Fish Company was founded in Honolulu in 1995 by Wayne Samiere, and provides fresh seafood to chefs all over the world. Gregg especially likes the way each filet is sent vacuum sealed, and he says the fish tastes like it just came off the boat.

Chef Gregg has given me this scrumptious recipe to share with MidWeek readers.

Hawaiian sunfish has a flaky white meat and a firm texture, but is very tender when cooked.

Here is a tip for easy dicing of mango: Start with the mango “cheek”; fillet off the pit lengthwise. Cut small squares by scoring mango with a sharp knife. Do not cut through skin. Turn mango half “inside out,” separating squares. Slice off squares with a knife.



* 6 ounces sunfish filet
* dash salt and pepper, to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon butter
* 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
* 1 cup orzo pasta
* 3 cups water
* pinch Spanish saffron
* salt and pepper, to taste
* stir-fried asparagus, string beans or any green vegetable of your choice

Hawaiian Sunfish With Saffron Orzo and Mango Salsa from the Top of the Mark in San Francisco

Season fish with salt and pepper and press sesame seeds into fish. Preheat skillet to hot and add butter mixed with sesame oil. Sear fish on sesame-coated side until lightly browned; turn to finish cooking. For orzo, add saffron to boiling water, add pasta and cook until done; season with salt and pepper to taste.

To plate: Spoon orzo onto plate, top with sunfish filet, and arrange vegetables around. Garnish with strips of yellow and red bell pepper, and cilantro, if desired.

Makes one portion.

For Mango Salsa:

* 1 cup diced fresh mango
* 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
* 1/4 cup diced red onion, diced
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
* 1 tablespoon lime juice
* salt and pepper, to taste

Mix mango, pepper, and onion together and set aside. Mix oil, vinegar, and lime juice until well combined and toss with mango mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and chill.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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