My family has spent a lot of time in Hawaii (where my dad is from) over the years, and my favorite part of our visits is eating. I bring a lot of Hawaiian touches to my food here in New Jersey, and when I am out there I love to cook with all the local ingredients. On our last trip, we stayed in a condo in Maui right on the beach, with gorgeous views and a great kitchen. I made mac nut crusted swordfish and furikake-crusted sashimi-grade ahi (tuna,) which my family really enjoyed.
Dinner tonight was the perfect fusion of Hawaiian and New Jersey ingredients, and it brought back nice memories of cooking in Kihei. Macadamia nuts are ever present in Hawaiian dishes – mac nut crusted fish, mac nut pancakes, mac nut lattes, mac nut cookies, etc. Fluke are a local favorite for NJ shore goers. They are in season for fishing all summer, and you can find fresh, local fluke at most of the coastal fish markets. I got mine at Skipper’s, an fun market (open seasonally) with great seafood located right on Route 72.
My strategy for the fish was to season and broil it, and make a separate macadamia nut panko ‘crust’ topping that could be spooned over both the fish and the rice and vegetable sides. In the past I have always found myself wanting more of the crunchy crust part of different dishes, so in the past few years I started making big batches of topping and just serving it in a bowl alongside the food. For the topping today, I used:
- About two tablespoons of salted butter
- Most of a smallish bag of macadamia nuts, chopped (be careful when hand chopping and really careful if you want to use a grinder or food processor to chop them – the nuts are so fatty that they will turn into a creamy butter in no time, and for a crust you just want a rough chop)
- Between half a cup and a cup of panko breadcrumbs
- A few tablespoons of furikake (Japanese seasoning for rice with seaweed, sesame seeds and other good stuff. I used vegetable and egg versions in this dish; you can go with whatever flavor you like best or can find in the grocery store)
- Salt and pepper
- A splash of extra virgin olive oil
This made more than enough topping for the approximately pound and half of flounder that I got, which is enough for four people.
I melted the butter, then stirred in everything but the oil and let it toast, stirring occasionally. You don’t want it to be really dry, so I threw in a splash of the olive oil towards the end. Once it was toasted up and getting brown, it was ready to serve.
For the fish, I melted half a stick of salted butter and mixed in a few tablespoons of lemon juice (from a bottle, but if I had fresh lemons I would have used them) and sprinkles of Old Bay and garlic powder. I poured that mix over the fish and broiled on almost the top rack for about eight minutes (I checked after five to see if it was done,) then topped with the mac nut coating. I seved with rice and roasted seasoned zucchini.