For grim winter days, a taste of aloha

Shannon Kuhn
Shannon Kuhn

It's that time of year again, when co-workers and friends leave for two weeks and return with tans, knowing smiles and bags full of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

Alaskans migrate from the icy streets to the sandy shores of the Big Island every winter. Like flocks of geese, at any given point in the season you'll find us waiting eagerly in line at the airport wearing flip-flops and shorts, ready to exchange long, dark days for an extra dose of vitamin D.

Hawaii: the state Alaskans dream about six months out of the year, where you can lounge on beach chairs drinking pina coladas out of coconuts, buy spicy ahi poke in bulk and even find whole roasting pigs at the local Costco.

This January, however, it's not the sub-zero temps that are giving us reason to book a ticket south. Snowy photos posted by East Coast Facebook friends, interminably icy driveways and closed ski hills have prompted even the most serious winter-lovers to put Alaska Airlines on speed dial.

Weather-related vacillating moods are in full force around town. Whether you are loving or cringing at these tropical conditions, a sure remedy for January blues is to cook with island flavor profiles. A bag of macadamia nuts can help get you out of a deep-winter freeze. From cookies to waffles, fish or butternut squash, they are a fun and easy way to add some "aloha" to your meal.

Here's a recipe for macadamia coconut crusted wild Alaska halibut. Pull a fillet out of the freezer, make yourself a rum cocktail, and treat yourself to an island staycation. The shredded coconut and coconut milk add a bit of sweetness to the savory nuts and fish, and the potato flakes add great filler and consistency to the crust. Serve with tartar sauce or a mango salsa.

Macadamia and coconut crusted halibut

1-2 lb. Alaska halibut cut into 8-oz. pieces

½ cup macadamia nuts, crushed

½ cup shredded coconut, sweetened

½ cup instant mashed potato flakes

¼ cup coconut milk

Flour, as needed

Salt and pepper, as desired

Bowl 1: flour

Bowl 2: coconut milk

Bowl 3: macadamia nuts, coconut, and mashed potato flakes, mixed together

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place halibut fillet in bowl 1 and cover both sides with a layer of flour, then put the fish in bowl 2 and dredge both sides in coconut milk.

Place in bowl 3 and cover generously with the macadamia nut, coconut and potato flake mixture.

Sear both sides in a pre-heated cast iron skillet before placing the halibut on a piece of greased aluminum foil on a baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes before checking to see if the fish is done.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least five minutes before serving.


Shannon Kuhn
Food & Culture