Panko Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

I used to be very intimidated to cook fish at home. I only ate fish when I was at a fancy seafood restaurant and I never would have believed I could recreate the recipes at home. But when I became a pescatarian a couple years back, I started trying out many more seafood recipes in my own kitchen and was pleasantly surprised with how simple they were. Now that I moved to Maui and have access to an abundance of fresh, delicious, locally caught seafood I would be silly to not cook fish regularly.

My new favorite fish recipe is Panko Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi. This was always my go-to order at seafood restaurants. I just love the crispy texture of a nut and breadcrumb crusted fish. Its the grown up, sophisticated version of a fish stick and almost as easy to make as popping frozen fish sticks in the oven. I promise! Plus if you make this recipe then you have leftover mac nuts to make my to-die-for island inspired brunch treat... Banana Macadamia Nut Pancakes
So let's get cooking. First finely chop your macadamia nuts.
Mix together the nuts with Panko, flour, and butter. 
Now that you have your topping all set, its on to the fish. I was lucky enough to have picked up fresh filets of both Mahi Mahi (pictured on the right hand side) and Hawaiian butterfish at my local grocery store. Its crazy how fresh fish like this is actually some of the cheapest things I buy because it doesn't have to be shipped from the mainland unlike other groceries. HUGE plus of living on an island!

All you need to do is salt and pepper your fish, arrange them onto an oiled baking dish, and pop them into a 425 degree oven.
After the fish has been cooking for 5 minutes, pull them out of the oven and dip each filet of fish into coconut milk. The coconut milk adds an extra hint of tropical flavor; plus it allows for the Panko Macadamia Nut Crust to easily adhere to the fish.
After the filets are well coated with the coconut milk, place them back into the baking pan.
And spoon your topping onto each piece of fish, patting down the crumbs until they evenly coat the surface.
Return to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes until your fish is cooked and the crust is golden brown. One bite of this and you will never dare to eat another boring old fish stick again when you could make this amazing entrĂ©e in 30 minutes flat. 
I served mine with sauteed spinach and garlic, a simple angel hair pasta, and of course some Siracha for an easy weeknight meal. But you could also dress it up for an elegant dinner party by serving it with a mango sauce or relish and jasmine rice to compliment the tropical flavors of the fish. The possibilities are endless once you have such an easy base recipe. If you too are intimidated by cooking with fish, I urge you to try this simple recipe and discover for yourself how foolproof it is.

Panko Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

6 ounces roasted macadamia nuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup panko 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for oiling baking dish
4 (6 to 8-ounce) mahi mahi fillets
Kosher salt and pepper
1 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together the nuts, panko, flour, and butter. 

Season the fillets with salt and pepper and place in an oiled small baking dish. Bake for 5 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, dip each fillet into a bowl of coconut milk and then back on to the baking dish. Spoon your topping onto each piece of fish, patting down the crumbs until they evenly coat the surface.  Return to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the fish is cooked and the crust is golden brown.

adapted from Alton Brown