Macadamia-Coconut Tilapia with Cilantro Pesto

Macadamia Coconut Tilapia | windykitchen

Whenever I think of macadamia nuts, I think of the episode of That 70s Show where Red takes Kitty on a romantic weekend getaway to the same hotel where Eric is secretly taking Donna (hijinks!). After everything has gone predictably awry, Red has room service sent to the suite where Kitty is taking care of a puking Donna. Delighted, Kitty exclaims, “Cashews! THE most expensive nut, you know!”

Those cashews may have caused Kitty to forgive Red for his shenanigans, but they always made me think — hey, aren’t macadamia nuts actually more expensive?

Actually, if you accept the results of a simple Google search as authoritative, we’re both wrong. According to this round-up of nut prices, pistachios are actually the most expensive nut, costing $6.87 for eight ounces. Cashews are only $4.74, and macadamia nuts are $6.14. Who knew!?

This yummy pan-fried tilapia is coated with a mixture of macadamia nuts and coconut, then topped with a cilantro pesto that’s super quick to whip up. Whatever macadamia nuts are selling for these days (I think my small jar was $7, ouch!), this tasted like a million bucks.

Macadamia Coconut Tilapia | windykitchen

MACADAMIA-COCONUT TILAPIA WITH CILANTRO PESTO (recipe from My Life as a Mrs)

For the fish:
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 cup macadamia nuts
2/3 cup shredded coconut (my coconut was unsweetened, so I added 1 and 1/2 tsp sugar)
2 eggs
1 lb tilapia or other white fish
canola or vegetable oil

For the pesto:
3-4 tsp lime juice (I used 1 and 1/2 limes)
1 and 1/2 cups cilantro leaves (grab a big handful and twist the stems off)
1 jalapeno (seeds removed if you don’t like spice — we left ’em in)
pinch of salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil

1. Prepare 3 shallow baking dishes/pie plates. In the first one, add flour and season with salt and pepper. In the second, add eggs and lightly beat. Next, in a food processor, chop the macadamia nuts into a fine powder. Add the coconut (and sugar, if using) and pulse until just combined. Place mixture the third baking dish.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Dredge each piece of fish in flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip fish in egg wash and coat well (again, shake off any excess). Finally, dip fish into macadamia/coconut mixture and coat well, pressing to make it stick. Repeat with remaining fish.
3. Heat about 1 tbsp canola/vegetable oil in large (oven-safe, if you’ve got it) skillet over medium heat. Make sure skillet is well heated, then place fish gently in pan and brown on both sides (about 2 minutes per side). Once fish is browned, place skillet in oven to finish cooking, about 5-10 minutes. If your skillet isn’t oven-safe, transfer fish to a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. Fish is done when it turns white and opaque.
4. While fish is finishing in the oven, place lime juice, cilantro, salt, and jalapeno in food processor and pulse to combine. Add olive oil until it comes together and becomes a thin pesto-like consistency. Serve fish with pesto.

I loved the slightly sweet coating for the fish, and the bright, fresh-tasting pesto was the perfect thing to pour over it. Pretty quick dinner, too!

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