Macadamia-Crusted Red Snapper with Maui Onion Salsa
Wolfgang Puck for Crunchy Macadamia nuts form a delicious topping for delicate fish fillets in this island-inspired dish. At Spago Maui, we make this with Hawaiian gray snapper, but you can substitute fillets of red snapper or any other delicate white-fleshed fish. The absolute key to success is to use the best-quality, freshest fish you can find. You can use another sweet onion such as a Vidalia or a Walla Walla in place of the Maui onion. You can find all the special ingredients in a Japanese market, or simply replace them with the more familiar options suggested.

Maui Onion Salsa

1 Maui onion or other sweet onion, finely diced
1 Tbs chopped fresh chives
1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp chopped Japanese pickled ginger
1 Tbs ginger vinegar from pickled ginger
1/4 tsp prepared wasabi paste
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 shiso leaves, cut into thin julienne strips, or 1 dash of ground cumin
2 Tbs ogo seaweed, or julienned cucumber
1 teaspoon hijiki seaweed hydrated in cold water until tender, or 1 Tbs julienned cucumber
Freshly ground black pepper

Ginger Butter

1 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar

Macadamia-Crusted Red Snapper

1 cup chopped unsalted macadamia nuts
4 (6-ounce) snapper or yellowtail fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
4 whole shiso leaves or 2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

First, make the Maui Onion Relish. In a nonreactive mixing bowl, stir together all the relish ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

Next, prepare the Ginger Butter. Put all the ingredients in a food processor with the metal blade and process until smooth. Set aside at room temperature.

To make the Macadamia-Crusted Red Snapper, preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease or oil a baking dish large enough to hold the fish fillets without touching. Evenly spread the chopped Macadamia nuts on a large dinner plate. Season both sides of the fish fillets with salt and pepper, and spread the Ginger Butter evenly on their top sides. Then, press the buttered side of each fillet into the Macadamia nuts to coat it and place it nut side up in the baking dish.

Bake the fish fillets until they are cooked through and their nut crusts are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Spoon the Maui Onion Relish onto four serving plates and, with a spatula, transfer a fillet to each plate, placing it on top of the relish. Garnish with shiso or cilantro and serve immediately.

Yield:4 servings