The Story and Cultural Significance of ‘Opihi in Hawaii

March 12, 2019

The Story and Cultural Significance of ‘Opihi in Hawaii

‘Opihi have always held a great significance to native Hawaiians. They were used as food, jewelry, or plant fertilizer. In ancient times, ‘opihi was usually gathered by women. The picking ‘opihi was known to be very dangerous and there is an old Hawaiian proverb that says he iʻa make ka ʻopihi translates to “the ʻopihi is a fish of death,” which speaks of the hazard when picking ‘opihi amongst the waves.

‘Opihi creep onto rocks as they graze on algae. The best time to pick them is when they are feeding. Their only means of protection is that they clamp up when they’re alarmed making them difficult for even the craziest waves to pick them up. In Hawaii, ‘Opihi are considered a seafood delicacy, it’s known for being the most expensive seafood in Hawaii! Locals usually eat them raw or put them on the barbeque with some sea salt or shoyu.

Next time you visit the islands, don’t miss out on the Hawaiian delicacy cherished by the locals.

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