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Macadamia-crusted Mahi-Mahi with Pineapple Sambal

Rich and buttery fish topped with a sweet-and-sour relish is an umami bomb!


Macadamia nuts are the most decadent by far, full of fat and flavor. They make a delicious, gluten-free crumb coating for mahi-mahi, one of the world's most sustainable fish. This recipe features a tamari butter as the binder for the nut coating, which in turn flavors, seasons, and keeps moist the fish itself. The sambal, and Indonesian relish, is made with pineapple, which is a perfect pair for macadamia nuts because of their shared Hawaiian roots. Fish sauce and hot pepper give this condiment a depth of flavor with a trace of heat that provides balance and brightness. I like to serve this dish with a classic fried rice, and a steamed green vegetable tossed in the tamari butter.

Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; (mini) food processor; rubber spatula; spoons; large sauté pan; wooden spoon; small mixing bowl; spoon; rimmed sheet pan; parchment paper; (fish) spatula

Sambal Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 Thai bird or Serrano chili, ribs and seeds removed if desired for less heat, minced

2 cups fresh pineapple, ¼-inch dice

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon sugar or agave

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


Tamari Butter Ingredients: 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1-2 teaspoons tamari


Mahi-Mahi Ingredients:

4, 6-ounce pieces of mahi-mahi

1 cup macadamia nuts, finely ground

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.


2. First prepare the pineapple sambal. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan, then add the garlic, red onion slices, and chili pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions have softened. Add the pineapple, fish sauce, sugar or agave, and salt. Sauté, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes, until the pineapple softens and releases some of its juice. Let the sambal continue to cook, without stirring, for several minutes until the liquid has almost all but evaporated. At this point the sambal will be deeper in color and a touch caramelized. Stir in the cilantro, and set aside.


3. Next prepare the tamari butter. Stir the tamari into the softened butter, beating it until full incorporated.


ILOC tip: sauté a green vegetable with some tamari butter, or steam and toss in the butter, to accompany the fish. Store the extra tamari butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.

4. Season generously the skin and flesh sides of the fish with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the fish skin side-down on the parchment paper.


5. Rub the flesh side of the fish each with about a tablespoon of tamari butter, in a somewhat thick layer.


ILOC tip: it might be easiest to spread the tamari butter with your fingers instead of a knife. Do what works best. It's about technique, not torture.

6. Sprinkle the fish evenly and generously with the ground macadamia, pressing the nuts into the butter.


"Some of the nuts might fall onto the sheet pan. That's more than ok. Those will be the most toasted and golden brown nuts thanks to the tamari butter that will melt all over the fish and onto the pan. You can use them for additional garnish."

7. Cook the fish for 12-14 minutes the 425°F oven. Remove from the oven and place the fish on a serving platter or individual plates topped with a spoonful of pineapple sambal.

Makes 4 servings.



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