Bring from Florida and having grown up on an island in the summers, I have caught, dipped, wrangled, cleaned, shelled, cooked, and eaten my fair share of seafood, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. In fact, one of my earliest memories from childhood was walking with my mom through the grass flats around Boca Grande dipping blue crabs every morning. As a child, I hated that. As an adult, I look back on it and realize just how ideal and unique my childhood was. Likewise, as an adult, I find myself trying to recreate experiences and recipes inspired by my childhood.
I was asked once to create a dish that represented “me on a plate.” I immediately turned to seafood and fresh produce. The fish I created for that dish has become one of our date night favorites…coconut crusted fish. The original recipe used mahi, but since then, I have used grouper, cod, and even tilapia. As for the rest of the dish, that’s a discussion for another time. These days, whenever I make coconut crusted mahi, it’s always placed atop a fresh, colorful salad full of the flavors of Florida. Combining crisp, light fish with savory and sweet salad fixins’ combined with couscous is one of my all time favorite recipes.
4-4 oz. mahi filets (or any white flaky fish you prefer)
1/2 c. melted butter
few dashes of tobasco
1 c. sweetened flake coconut
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Mixed Greens–we prefer a mix of kale, arugula, leafy lettuce
Grape Tomatoes–cut in quarters
Cucumber–peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
Yellow Squash–cut lengthwise and small slices
Scallions–chopped white and green
Navel Oranges–sectioned and cut into bite size pieces
Couscous–cooked according to package directions and cooled
Juice of 2 Lemons
2-3 TBSP Orange Juice
1 TBSP Dijon Mustard
3/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and add tobasco sauce. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non stick cooking spray. In a larger bowl, combine coconut flakes, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper.
Dip fish fillets in butter mixture and coat in coconut-bread crumb mixture. Press coconut mixture onto fillets. Place fillets on the foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle coated fillets with a few tablespoons of the remaining butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until fish is opaque and crust has lightly browned.
In a large bowl, layer or toss remaining salad ingredients and set aside, waiting for fish to cook.
In a small bowl or glass jar, combine vinaigrette ingredients. Shake or whisk to combine.
When fish is ready, place cooked fillets on top of salad and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
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