Mahi-Mahi, macadamia nuts, and pineapple–this is a dish that just screams Hawaii. Even if you’re not a big fish person (like me), this dish should be pretty inviting to you because who could turn down those Polynesian flavors? (The correct answer, for those keeping score at home, is nobody 😉 ) You take a delicate, flaky fish like Mahi-Mahi, bread it using the distinct, rich flavor of macadamia nuts, and top it off with a creamy, tropical-flavored sauce. This will either have you feeling like you’re somewhere tropical or leave you nostalgic/jealous, wishing that you actually were somewhere tropical…
So let’s get started:
- Roughly 1 lb of Mahi-Mahi
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup of bread crumbs (Panko breadcrumbs [these are Japanese style] are ideal, but not necessary)
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- black pepper
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- 1/2 cup of chicken stock
- 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup of pineapple juice/chunks
- 1/4 cup of coconut (I use grated coconut in syrup, not coconut milk)
- a few shallots (greens, not the bulb)
- a few basil leaves
- cilantro leaves
- 1/2 stick of butter
- black pepper
- cayenne pepper
- ground thyme
Prepare the breading by simply mixing all of the breading ingredients in a food processor and chop it well. The smell of macadamia is in the air! Set this aside.
Now let’s prepare the sauce so that it can simmer in the background while we then cook everything else. The sauce is going to be creamy and herby but also light and fruity. I once again, used the food processor since, hey, its already setup and why not? So go ahead and mix everything except for the butter. Then pour this into a saucepan and simmer on low-medium/medium heat for about 30 minutes, periodically adding small pieces of the butter and stirring. Don’t overheat because we don’t want the sauce to break. (If you’ve never heard that term before, a sauce “breaks” when the proteiny part of the sauce coagulates and the fatty component separates out, the end result being a separated, sad looking sauce. You’ve probably seen this when reheating some dishes in the microwave. This is why we go slow, low temperature, and don’t drop all of the butter in at once.)
So while that’s going, now let’s preheat the oven to 350? and clean the fish. Depending on how it was sold to you, you may need to skin, de-bone, and slice your filet into two or three pieces. Some quick knife-work will do the job (Mahi is thankfully pretty easy to de-bone). Then, coat the fish pieces with the breading mixture, fry briefly (like a minute or two) in olive oil, flip, wait some more, and then remove to coat with breading again (its hard to get that breading on thick enough!). You want to fry in more butter than oil and you want to be careful not to leave your fish sitting for too long on the heat. Macadamia nuts are kind of fatty and they burn quite easily. You’ll want your fish to spend about 10 minutes in the frying pan. Then, remove from the frying pan and put into a pan for 10 minutes in the oven so that we can keep cooking the fish without turning our breading into charcoal.
When the fish and the sauce are both all done, simply plate the fish and ladle sauce over it. If you’re more motivated and keen on presentation than I am (and if you have the equipment), you might consider straining the sauce to get those leafy herbs out of there since we’ve squeezed all of the flavor out of them already. Either way, it tastes great and every plate is going to come back wiped clean!