White Fish in Tomatillo & Tahitian Taro Leaf Sauce

Our ohana garden has been recovering from summer neglect. Thankfully it’s mid fall – whatever that means on an island where we only have 2 image_4seasons – rainy and dry – but in seasonal terms, we’re on the mend! So for us, it’s tomatillos – purple tomatillos. And like purple bush beans, when cooked, they lose their hue and turn back to green but when it all goes down nothing matters more than taste.

As for the Tahitian Taro Leaf – One Song Farm makes this bounty available every Saturday at the Kilauea Farmers Market and it’s well worth a try. Think of that delicious soft green coating around the steamed chicken/fish/pork we know as laulau. Then think about having just the greens in a yummy sauce you get to use at your discretion. Tahitian Taro leaf is a delight – and delightfully versatile.

Which is why I merged the two sauces and added wild caught fish. image_5I also added some leftover taro to balance the dish as a whole. There’s no rhyme or reason. Add different fish, skip the taro, use but one of the sauces rather than combining them, tonight’s dinner was a thrifty and resourceful take on local ingredients made fresh and fancy. Enjoy 🙂

Tomatillo Sauce:

  • 1.5 lbs tomatillos
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 bunching onions (scallions or 1 medium regular onion)
  • 2 small nioi chili peppers (can omit)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 lime

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Add water to cover only half way, bring to a boil, and cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend in the pot – or wait to cool and add to a regular blender and puree. If you’re making the sauce to use as it is – once cool add the juice of a fresh lime and more sea salt to taste.

Tahitian Taro Leaf Sauce:

1 large bunch of taro leaf, chopped

* this is a crucial step and cannot be skipped: Bring a pot of water to boil, add a palm full of sea salt. Add stems and leaf of taro leaf and cook until well wilted – 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.


  • 4 bunching onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 thumb size nub of ginger, chopped
  • 2 bunches cilantro, chopped

in ~1 Tbsp olive oil, while sauteeing add a dash of tamari. Add this mixure to the tahitian taro leaf and blend in a high speed blender. You’ll likely get a better consistency with this sauce if you use a blender as opposed to a hand/immersion style blender (I find).

For the Dish:

Season fish with salt and pepper.

Heat the tomatillo sauce and cook off any extra liquid until it becomes thick ~15 minutes.

Sear both sides of the  fish (I used wild marlin but ono, opah, mahi mahi would be great too) in a bit of olive oil until mostly cooked through. Add to the tomatillo sauce and continue to cook. After about 5 mintues, add the tahitian taro leaf sauce and reduce heat. At this point I added cooked taro that I had on hand. If you don’t have taro available or any other starch, the final dish would be delicious served over rice or quinoa as well. It’s also nice scooped up with a chip. Once all the flavors have melded take the juice of 1 lime and squeeze over the dish and add a bit more salt adjusting the heat or acidity to your liking.