mahi mahi

Macadamia-Crusted Mahi-Mahi

The wind is howling. Like, shaking my blinds, waking up Gatsby, and making me think I’m back in Nebraska in a winter blizzard howling. This is a cruel joke after a really rough winter, and then two days of 60+ degrees and sunshine. But, it’s also the incentive I need to get this delicious recipe up on my blog.

You see, I’ve been in Hawaii. Or rather, I was in Hawaii about three weeks ago.

Time out. Can we talk about Hawaii for a moment? Beautiful place. Definitely on the to-do list for pretty much anyone. In honor of my dad’s birthday, we took a cruise that stopped at all four main islands. My favorite island was Maui, I would have loved more time in Kona, and the Na Pali Coast is even more beautiful in person than in pictures. I could have spent two more weeks there (at least), but I’m so glad I went.

Anyway, I am just now getting back into my routine, and feeling the desire to cook creatively. Whenever I travel, I love to experience the local culture and food — and then recreate in my kitchen. I definitely have a few ideas from Hawaii.

But I was on the road for almost two weeks (some business, then vacation), and when I came home all I wanted was very simple, very green foods. I wasn’t ready to experiment with new ingredients or really spend much time in the kitchen. I’m just getting back into the swing of kitchen playtime.

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But, this is actually not a new recipe for me, although I had admittedly forgotten about it until having a similar dish in Hawaii. I first developed it about 6 years ago to copycat a dish I had at a now-defunct Asian fusion recipe. At the time, coconut-based ingredients weren’t mainstream back then, and I knew nothing about Asian cooking (umm, today I know twice as much… which is to say, still nothing), so I used dairy milk and olive oil.

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If you’re strict Paleo or gluten-free, panko is a no-go. The problem is, without some kind of binding you’ll end up with macadamia nut butter if you aren’t careful, and it’s hard for the coating to stick. Some people like to use nut flour or nut meal in a recipe like this, and I’m sure they are delicious. But, nuts are heavy and rich. I specifically wanted the lightness and crispiness that panko adds to the dish.

It’s great with rice, or try plantains if you can get some (presuming you like them… they aren’t really my thing). I also like it with a pineapple-based salsa, and I imagine other tropical fruits would also be good. I served this with leftover broccoli, but it tasted too bitter to me. Maybe a first-course salad would have been better? Let me know what you think.

Hope you enjoy! Aloha, and I’ll see you soon.

Macadamia-Crusted Mahi-Mahi

Serves 4

1 1/4 cups macadamia nuts
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 can light coconut milk, shaken (or 1 1/2 cups dairy milk)
Kosher salt
Ground pepper
4 6-oz. boneless, skinless mahi mahi fillets, or other firm white fish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray or brush with melted coconut oil. Combine nuts and bread crumbs in a food processor. Add a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Pulse until the nuts are finely crushed (it will resemble couscous). Pour into a shallow bowl.

Pour the milk into a separate shallow bowl. Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dip each fillet first into the milk and then into the nut mixture. Place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle any excess nut mixture onto the fillets.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until a light golden brown and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

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Fish Tacos

Growing up, tacos were a school lunch food, and something we sometimes ate at friends’ houses, but not a regular feature at our table. We just didn’t eat much Mexican or Tex-Mex in our family, in restaurants or at home.

These days, I’m making up for lost time. I love Mexican and Mexican-inspired food (authentic or not). I would probably eat tacos once a week if I could. Ground beef, steak, fish, chicken, pork, vegetarian… do many options, I never get bored.

I like tilapia for fish tacos because they’re inexpensive, always available and have good flavor and texture. I often use the individually packaged 4 oz. frozen fillets (2 fillets for a single serving works well). Most fish is best served immediately, not as leftovers. I only cook what I need, but I often make it two days in a row since I already have the ingredients.

Fish tacos are typically made with corn tortillas rather than flour. They aren’t as sturdy, and they break easily, especially if there’s a lot of liquid. Some people use a double layer of tortillas. I just eat quickly, and finish off anything that falls out with a fork. :) To make it paleo, replace tortillas with butter or romaine lettuce leaves.

I love fish tacos with my canned summer corn salsa. So good! Make your tacos hotter with a spicy salsa, jalapenos, or a dash of siracha, or include a shake (or three) of red pepper when seasoning the fillets.

~Red

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Fish Tacos

For every 2 people:
12-16 oz. firm white fish fillets, such as tilapia or mahi mahi
Cumin, salt and pepper to taste
2 limes, divided
Olive oil
Cilantro
4-6 corn tortillas
Shredded cabbage, diced avocado, salsa, sour cream/creme fraiche, or your favorite toppings

Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels. Place fish in a shallow glass dish and season both sides with cumin, salt and pepper. Finally chop a couple tablespoons of cilantro leaves. Pat into fish. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the fish. Drizzle with olive oil. Flip the fillets a couple times to coat. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.

If desired, whisk together a lime sour cream sauce with about 2-3 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

Brush a grill pan with olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Grill tortillas until lightly brown. Wrap in paper towels and store in the microwave to keep warm.

Increase heat to medium-high. Shake excess marinade from fish. Grill fish until the center is opaque and the fish flakes with a fork.

Assemble tacos: load tortillas with pieces of fish, cabbage, lime sour cream sauce, avocado, salsa, extra cilantro, or other favorite toppings.

Serve immediately with lime wedges. And possibly a margarita on the rocks.