Moonfish with feta and lemon.

In sticking with my new fearless food-self, embracing the foods I’d heretofore hid from, I bought feta for dinner.  As much as I love cheeses, I’ve never had a thing for feta.  Too salty, or spongy, and I’d tasted it as too-large chunks in otherwise delicate salads too many times before.  Things like that can turn a girl off if she’s not set on food fearlessness.

Thank goodness for that, too, or I would have never tasted melted feta.  Now, if you’re like me and you hold things against feta for it’s spongy saltiness, then do yourself a favor and melt it; with a little help from added ingredients, the cheese transforms, no sponginess and nothing overly salty, a creamy coat of cheese spiked through with little chunks of not-yet-melted feta.  By broiling it you even get little browned spots that will certainly be your favorite part.

The fish we used was opah, or moonfish.  The skin has the prettiest pattern—little moons—and even though it’s too tough for me to eat, I left it on.  Unless you want to tell guests too take off the skin before eating, I suggest you skin the fish beforehand.  Opah is a meaty fish, a lot like swordfish or tuna, and can be used interchangeably with other meaty fishes.  Like these other fishes, though, opah, as pretty as it is, has high levels of mercury.

I mixed the feta with some mayonnaise for creaminess, fresh dill and orange mint, a delicious breed of mint that I’ve been growing and raving about.  It’s slightly citrusy with a touch of orange, not overpowering like lemon or cinnamon mint is—perfect for salads or fish, or eating little leaves as you water.

The herbs flavored the fish perfectly; with the feta and mayonnaise it was a lot like a tangy compound butter.  Try to slice the lemon as thinly as possible, with a mandoline or a very sharp knife, because I have a feeling too much lemon would overpower. We served the fish with toasted orzo with fennel and saffron (from the recent issue of Gourmet, where I found the recipe for the fish) that was so good, it deserves it’s own post (after I make it again with a tweak or two).  It would be good served with rice, but not as good, I think, so here’s the link to the orzo in case you can’t wait.

Moonfish with Feta and Lemon

adapted from Gourmet, June 2009

2 pieces moonfish (opah) fillet, or substitute mahi-mahi or swordfish
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons chopped orange mint, or substitute regular mint
1 tablespoons chopped dill
squeeze of lemon juice
8 very thin lemon slices

Preheat broiler. Put a cast-iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well.

Season fish with a little salt and pepper.

Whisk together mayonnaise, feta, herbs, and lemon juice and spread over top of fish. Put 2 lemon slices (slightly overlapping) on center of each fillet. Drizzle lemon slices with oil.

Broil fish 8 inches from heat until just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. If topping browns before fish is cooked, cover loosely with foil. Serve fish with orzo.

27 thoughts on “Moonfish with feta and lemon.”

  1. I’m not familiar with moon fish but I like the preparation you chose so I’m sure it was delicious. Oh, and I agree with you…orzo over rice.

  2. Feta is quite possibly my favorite cheese. If I were have a go-to quick mea, it would be fresh pita bread, hummus, and a big hunk of feta cheese. I’m glad you’ve jumped on the wagon. I personally like to sprinkle it on my omelets and watch it melt. Perfection!

  3. I started our garden a few weeks ago and planted orange mint! Now I know one way I’ll put it to use 😉 Everything about this recipe reads utter deliciousness!

  4. I feel the same way about feta… not sure. I’m like that about all goat cheese too (and oh, I have tried 9 different kinds now, including some rather expensive ones). I would love to try both melted with a meat or pasta as I know the flavor can be different and wonderful. Good for you for venturing in that direction.

    1. I think eating cheese with other foods you love is a great way to get used to them. I was like that with brie… now I could eat it alone, by the forkful!

  5. I’ve never seen moonfish! Love the pattern on the skin. If I might suggest, try Valbreso feta if you can find it, it is a French ewe’s milk feta and I feel it is a bit creamier and a little less salty than traditional Greek barrel cured.
    That looks so fabulous I think it might just be dinner tonight.


  6. I’m not afraid of a little spongyness, and here’s the truth: I love salt. A little too much. Even so I know what you mean about feta — it can knock your teeth out. When I use it fresh I crumble it into very tiny pieces, always. I also only use imported Greek feta — it has a sharpness and bite that helps to balance the salt. But your idea of melting it is brilliant, and I’m intrigued by the moonfish, which I’m not familiar with. A beautiful post with just stunning photos, especially the first one (looks a little like ice cream!). Gorgeous!

  7. Love whatyou have done with the moonfish! I love feta but generally don’t bake with it. May have to change that now!

  8. Not a big fan of moonfish, whose oils are not digestible for many people (read: Olestra), and you’re right boku mercury. As far as a kind of feta to buy, I always go for Mt. Vikos, which is spendy but good. I like it with saganaki, a Greek shrimp dish.

    1. That is some good information to have about moonfish. Never tried Mt. Vikos, but will do, especially if I can find me a saganaki recipe.

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this fish before! The spots are certainly unique.

    I’m totally with you on confronting your food fears (I had to try fennel about once a year for about 6 years before I finally decided I liked it). Love the way you’ve paired feta with with the fish.

  10. As Mark said, I’ve never seen this fish, moon fish, before. I will try to find it , since I’m so curious about it, besides you’re right, the dot pattern looks irresistible. Love the idea of: melting the feta (never done it!!!!!!!!! and I do love feta!) and use it to enhance the flavor of a fish (or chicken as someone else said above) with that orangy mint you have (and I’m so envy about it) 😉

  11. I ripped out this recipe to try as well!!! It looked so good, and your pictures certainly do it justice! I’m going to try it with yogurt instead of mayo cause i cant stand the stuff. No offense. Great photography, glad I found your blog!

  12. This looks yummy! I’m always on the lookout for fish dishes that doesn’t sound too complicated or overly ‘fishy’ – TheHusband is not a big fan of fish, but hopefully this will convince him otherwise (he’s a big fan of cheese – any cheese).

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