Of all the gastropods in the sea, Hawaiians love the humble opihi best of all. With shells shaped like miniature snow-capped Mauna Keas, their amazing ability to cling to rocks and a sharp saltiness complemented by the mildness of fresh poi, opihi are both cultural treasures and coveted ocean snacks, or pupus at the local bar by the beach. You will find them in the wild along remote shorelines from the Big Island all the way to South Point, the last barren outcrop in the Souteastern Hawaiian Islands.
You will find non-shelled opihi rattling around in bags tied to the waists of opihi men, who risk their necks to get them. Opihi can be found them next to the poke in Honolulu fish markets, selling for up to $18 per pound in the shell. As a rule, opihi won’t be found along any stretch of coastline where you can also find a place to park, because where people go, the opihi devoured. When it comes to fresh Hawaiian seafood, nothing spends less time in transit than the opihi freshly piced off the rocks and slurped right out of the shell. Opihi are typically eaten raw, either plain or poke style, with limu and a sprinkle of Hawaiian sea salt. They also go well on the grill, seasoned with shoyu (soy sauce) and ginger perhaps, plus a hint of chili water or Tabasco.