You want to know a secret about me? No, it’s not that juicy. But it’s relevant.
I hate going grocery shopping. Like, literal hate. Like, I won’t do it for weeks at a time and will subsist entirely off of things in the pantry and the freezer.
But here’s another secret: I love bulk shopping. My dad got a Costco membership last year and gave me the extra card, and now I go nuts when I’m in there. I buy ALL THE THINGS in huge quantities. Need a roll of toilet paper? Here, have 60.
Now you might remember this admission, which led me to take my 4 pounds of strawberries and turn them into a shrub, so it will not surprise you to know that I get a lot of fresh and frozen food from Costco. I don’t know if it all works out being cheaper, but it’s high quality, which you would never in a billion years anticipate. Plus, it’s basically like going to a community activity for me, because my own observational evidence shows that Costco is kept in business entirely by Indian immigrants alone. I’m with my people there. Seas of my brown brethren.
Moving on, fish is super good for you, did you know that? And I’ve been trying to eat more of it. But it’s expensive AF. Unless you get it at Costco.
I got 3 lbs of flash-frozen mahi mahi fillets for $18. That’s 12 servings of wild caught fish for under $20. Not too shabs. And they’re individually portioned for the lovable spinster in your life.
PS I’m not getting paid by Costco, but I don’t mind advertising for them for free because I think I’ve eaten my own weight in free samples there. Probably yours too.
Okay all of this is to tell you that going to Costco every once in a while + never shopping at regular stores means that I can conjure meals entirely from items in my freezer and pantry. This is one of those meals, and if all of these things exist in my pantry, they can exist in yours too.
This recipe is gorgeous, so fast, and so forgiving. Don’t have mahi mahi? Use some other flakey white fish. Don’t have walnuts? Use pecans. Don’t have Thai chilis? I feel bad for you, because you need the chilis. (NOTE: I know this can be an esoteric ingredient for some, but I buy a bag of them at the Vietnamese market and then freeze them so it’s often the only “fresh” chili I have on hand. You can use any other super hot chili – habanero or scotch bonnet will work nicely.) With this recipe, you can have an insanely healthy dinner ready in 20 minutes and feel really fucking good about it. It is actually inspired by a dish they make in Hawaii, but instead of panko and walnuts, they use crushed corn flakes and macadamia nuts, which I encourage you to try. I’m sure it’s crunchy and buttery and amazing – I just don’t keep either of those things in the house, so I did this instead. Unfortunately, I’ve strayed so far from the traditional preparation that I can’t even say the two dishes are related.
The glaze is so simple, but I encourage you to taste as you go. Ingredients can vary a lot – especially mustards and soy sauces – but what you are looking for is a balance between sweetness from the honey, the salinity and earthiness from the soy sauce, pungency and acidity from the mustard, and heat from the sambal. If you taste any one flavor too much over the others, tweak the glaze to bring it into balance.
If you follow the instructions – 10 minutes in the oven, and then finished in the broiler if necessary, you should have a beautiful piece of fish and a golden brown crunchy nutty crust, like this:
If instead, you stick the fish in the broiler to finish it and then promptly get distracted by your your own image in the mirror and walk away to admire yourself, the dish will rightly chastise you by burning, and it will look more like this:
Don’t walk away. 30-60 seconds in the broiler should be just enough depending on how close the fish is to the heat.
For the fish
2 4-oz mahi mahi fillets
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle or a mini food processor until they are roughly the size of the panko flakes
1 Thai chili, very thinly sliced on the bias, seeds removed if desired, taking care to wash your hands immediately after handling, or use gloves
finely ground black pepper
Optional garnish: Toasted sesame seeds
For the glaze
1-2 Tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like things)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp dijon mustard (or substitute with either 1 tsp Chinese mustard or dry mustard)
1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek or other chili-garlic sauce
- Preheat the oven for 350.
- Combine the walnuts and the panko and stir in 1/2 tsp salt and a 1/4 tsp pepper.
- Season the mahi mahi with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Using your fingers, coat the tops of the fillets with the walnut mixture, pressing it down onto the fillet. There should be enough oil from the walnuts to help it adhere and become a stiff coating.
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, place the fillets on the sheet with the crust facing up, and bake for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, combine all of the ingredients for the glaze into a small bowl, stir until smooth, and then taste to adjust.
- Check the fish. If the coating has not started to brown, move the fish to the broiler and broil for 30 seconds to a minute until the crust is golden brown. Move to a plate, drizzle with the glaze, and top with thai chili threads and sesame seeds.