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Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi (With a Gluten-Free Variation)
Mahi-mahi (a.k.a dolphinfish, a.k.a dorado) is commonly served with a macadamia nut crust (made famous by Roy's restaurant) because the nutty topping is a great compliment to the sweet flavor and firm texture. This variation of macadamia nut crust can be made gluten-free with a simple adjustment included in the Ingredients section below.
Mahi-mahi is rated a Best Choice for sustainable seafood by Seafood Watch, a consumer guide to sustainable seafood published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is caught with pole-and-line or trolling which limits the accidental catch of other species. It grows and matures quickly, so it is believed to be able to withstand concentrated fishing pressure.
As with many of my seafood recipes, I also have a vegetarian variation with macadamia nut crusted tofu since my friend Alex is often present at a dinner table of omnivores. Instructions are included here in the last section, "Vegetarian Variation."
If you decide to use the panko breadcrumbs (making this NOT gluten free), it makes for a lighter, airier texture to the nut crust. I have not yet been able to devise a gluten-free version that gets the same texture, but if you leave out the panko and use additional almond meal, it's still a nice dish--just with a slightly denser texture.
- 5 oz whole, raw macadamia nuts
- 2 tbsp almond meal
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, (leave out if making gluten-free and use 4 tbsp almond meal instead)
- 4 tbsp coconut milk
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 4 mahi mahi filets
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Coarsely grind the macadamia nuts in the food processor.
- In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the ground nuts, flour, bread crumbs, and melted butter. Set aside.
- Place the fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave ample room between the filets. Bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove the fish from the oven, and brush with coconut milk and distribute the nut mixture onto the top of each filet.
- Place the fish back in to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
- When you remove the fish from the oven, let it sit for another 5-10 minutes to solidify the crust before serving.
This nut crust is great when applied to any marinated tofu–especially ones like pineapple or ginger marinated tofu. You can buy these blocks of pre-marinated tofu in any grocery store. There is no need with tofu to par cook, so just brush the tofu with coconut milk, apply the nut crust and bake for 10 minutes on 425.
If you are making this version along with the mahi-mahi one, place the tofu on a smaller, separate baking sheet and start the tofu (with coconut milk and nut crust) at the second time the fish goes into the oven.
How Not to Screw It Up
- If you are not making this gluten free and decide to use bread crumbs, use Panko bread crumbs, specifically. They are very important to the texture of the nut crust. I tried this with other, cheaper bread crumbs, and it's just not the same. Panko bread crumbs are a Japanese bread crumb, and they are very light and crisp in their texture.
- You must par cook the fish before coating it with the macadamia crust. The fish takes longer to bake than the nuts do to brown. If you short cut here, you will end up with either undercooked mahi mahi or burned and blackened macadamia crust.
- I find for any fish recipe, clean-up is a lot easier if you line the baking sheet with parchment paper. It's easy to throw away, and it prevents you from having to scrub the baking sheet of fish skin that always sticks (no matter how non-stick your baking sheet is supposed to be).