Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lakehouse Island Fish Fry

We may not live on a tropical island but we DO live on a private lake, and that means lots of fishing. Sure, we can always do the usual fried fish, baked fish, even fish tacos, but they all have been on the dinner table here a few times too many. It's time to shake things up a bit.

When it comes to fish, there are many different tastes and textures. Some fish, like mahi mahi, are very dense and meaty, while others, like sole, are very light and delicate. Catfish, tuna and salmon are the "oily" fish and have much more aggressive flavors. I like them all, but in different kinds of dishes.

Many times when I cook fish I like to pan fry it, or saute. Sometimes that means a light pan sauce, maybe with butter, lemon and capers. Since it's warming up outside I really wanted something a little different, tropical and fresh, like a sweet and spicy fruit salsa. Fish fillets crusted with chopped macadamia nuts and sauteed until golden make a very upscale version of a fish fry, and paired with a tropical fruit salsa with just the right amount of heat, and drizzled with a bright lime butter you've got something really special. 

For the salsa I decided to go with fresh pineapple and mango, with some lime zest and juice, red peppers, scallions, and fresh jalapeno for a little heat. Lots of fresh cilantro adds a nice herbal note. 

This dinner and recipe is unique for Rockin' the Kitchen because we both will be in the kitchen working on different components of the meal. The Chef will be handling the cooking of the fish, and I will be working on the supporting cast- chopping nuts, making breadcrumbs, the salsa, and prep work. The Chef has used nuts as a crusting ingredients many times in the different kitchens he has worked in, so he will be demonstrating his technique for using macadamia nuts to bring the tropical touch to the dish.

Lakehouse Macadamia Crusted Cod

4-6 cod fillets
half of a 6 oz. jar macadamia nuts
1 cup dry breadcrumbs or panko
1 tablespoon minced parsley
salt and pepper
3 eggs
cooking oil
1/4 cup butter
juice and zest of one lime

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the lime juice and zest. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the macadamia nuts to chop them well. 

Combine the nuts with the breadcrumbs, parsley and salt and pepper in a shallow dish.

Beat the eggs in a shallow dish. Dip the fish fillets into the eggs and then coat with the crumb mixture. Set the fish on a plate to rest for a few minutes while the oil heats.

In a large skillet heat several tablespoons of cooking oil. Add the fish fillets and cook, turning only once, until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Serve fish with the Mango Pineapple Salsa.

Mango Pineapple Salsa

1 cup diced mango
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
small palmfull diced sweet red pepper
4-5 scallions, sliced or 1/4 red onion, diced
1 fresh chili pepper- I like jalapeno or habanero, diced
small palmfull chopped cilantro 
1 lime (juice and zest)
salt and pepper

Toss everything together in a bowl; cover and chill.

Let's talk for a minute about the fruit and peppers. In this recipe big hunks of fruit just wouldn't work well. I wanted very small dice, or brunoise, as it's called in the professional kitchen. TEENY dice. With such small pieces you don't end up with a big hunk of jalapeno unexpectedly, and it allows the flavors to meld better. Plus eat bite has more "stuff" and more flavors all at the same time- very important when you're making a dish with such unique flavors like mango, red bell pepper, jalapenos and pineapple. 

Make the salsa the day before if you have time. That way flavors can really develop. Fresh cilantro really makes this salsa, but if you can't get it, parsley will do. Don't waste the money on dried cilantro- it loses ALL flavor when dried. 

I used scallions in the salsa- white and green parts, but you can also use red onion for another unique flavor. The hot pepper is up to you. We like the heat around here so we choose a hotter chili, but you can use whatever is more in line with your heat tolerance. Just be sure and use something with a little heat, even if it's a pinch of chili powder or canned green chilies.

Ohhhhh buddy. The macadamia nuts are so so so delicious in the breading. The nuts add a super crunchy element to the crust. The macadamias had just the right amount of salt to perk up the bright salsa flavors. Even though it was made from fruit, the salsa is more savory than sweet really. The cilantro cuts the sweetness beautifully, and the lime adds the right amount of acid. The Chef paired this outstanding fish with a simple baked potato with no big glop of sour cream- just simply dressed with chives and butter, and some of that purple cauliflower I made pickles with yesterday. 

I have a feeling this dish will be making an appearance on the lake house table a whole lot in the future.


  1. The freshness of your recipe reminds me of the 'street tacos' from our local Mexican restaurant in Marion. Dang, I love those things!

    1. I bet this would have made good fish tacos !!!! Great idea !!

  2. This looks like the type of meal I could eat weekly. Delicious.