It seems impossible that my ears are burning from the cold air whipping around as I walked our ding-dongs tonight.

Just a week ago, I was soaking up the sun and drinking mai-tais in Hawaii.

I’ve mentioned that while we were there, we had some incredible meals.

And none of them rocked my world more than my Uncle Steve’s red snapper.

Yowza.

I learned that this fish dish of his was what he made for my Aunt Lynda on their very first date. No wonder she came back for date #2!

Since leaving Hawaii, I have been dreaming about that dish. So, I decided to make it tonight to momentarily transport us back to the warm ocean breeze (you know, away from the cold fall blustery gusts of Ohio).

Now, I faced a couple of problems right off the bat.

1. I live in Ohio.

2. You cannot get the Hawaiian Red Snapper  (one of the only Red Snapper varieties to not be overfished and on the “do not eat” list) in Ohio.

3. If you could get the whole darn thing, Brad and I could not eat an entire fish.

4. Who would eat the eyeballs and brain without Steve here?

So, I set out to make a more mainland friendly version. All of the ingredients I used are easily found in Ohio, and I have both a chicken and a seafood version. So, if fish isn’t for you… stick around for the chicken.

Hang tight.

And hang loose.

I’ll walk ya through Uncle Steve’s recipe, and at the end I’ll give you our mainland version.

Dear Fish,

Thank you for giving your life for us. It meant a lot. Truly.

You were delicious.

XO,

Leah

Those are fish guts.

Know who likes fish guts?

This little guy.

So, this big guy shared the guts with the little guy.

Steve took the whole gutless fish and placed it on a Ti leaf, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and then wrapped another Ti leaf around it. He wrapped the whole bundle in foil, and he put it on the grill.

It both grilled AND steamed it.

Magical.

Here he is all cooked up.

Squeeze a little lemon on our buddy, Mr. Fish.

And a bit of soy sauce.

Now.

Oh now.

Now is the part that changed me.

On this plate is chopped garlic, ginger, and macadamia nuts.

Yes, please.

In this pan is oil. When it gets to the perfect temperature, the oil will bubble a bit around the chopsticks.

When it bubbles, toss in your plate of wonder.

Well, don’t toss.

That’s hot oil you are dealing with. And it could splatter. And that would hurt.

As soon as it hits the oil, oh Sweet Mary Patricia.

It is the smell of the islands.

When it gets a little golden, you are golden.

And you should pull it off of the heat.

Take that whole sizzling pan and pour it over Mr. Fish.
It crackles and adds those flavors to the entire dish.

Sprinkle it generously with chinese parsley (aka cilantro) and green onion.

Did I mention that Mr. Fish had to lose his tail?

Know why?

Because the house we rented had a small grill, and poor Mr. Fish couldn’t quite fit.

Look at that spread!

Pretty fantabulous.

In Hawaii, we had this with pad thai, white rice, seared ahi tuna, and a delicious green salad.

The after dinner show was pretty entertaining too.

Uncle Steve partook in the fish eyeball.

I cannot overstate how nasty this eyeball looked. The lens of the eyeball looked like a small white eyeball.

Sick.

But Steve is an island boy, through and through.

So, he slurped up the ball of eye.

Now, this is my cousin.

He is my uncle’s mini-me.

And he wanted the other eyeball.

At the very least, he wanted to be like his dad.

By the looks of his face, I’m not so sure he actually wanted the eyeball.

And believe me, he was even more unsure he wanted the eyeball once it was in his mouth.

Ha.

Did I mention that I’m from a family of good eaters?

Now, trust me when I say that even if you are not a seafood person you have to try a version of this dish.

It is so delicious, and on a cool fall day it will take you away to the islands.

I roasted some chicken tenders that were coated with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

350 for about 15-20 min (depends on the thickness).

I also wanted to try this dish with tilapia- a pretty easy-to-find fish in Ohio.

I used the frozen version from Kroger.

Get out a piece of parchment paper, and give it a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Place your defrosted fish down and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

Cover with another sheet of parchment paper.

We’re making a little pocket to steam the fish in while its in the oven.

This method keeps the fish super moist.

Have I ever mentioned that I rather loathe the word  moist?

Start at one corner and fold it like this:

Move over a couple of inches, and fold it again:

Keep going and folding!

Until it looks like this.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly sealed, but you want a pretty good pocket for some solid steam action.

Put it on a piece of foil or on a pan so that if juices start to flow, they don’t flow directly to the bottom of your oven.

Pop that into the oven with the chicken for the last 10 minutes of the chicken cooking.

Again, this will vary based on the filet’s thickness.

If you have paper thin tilapia filets, you could need as little as 5-6 minutes.

Take a peek, and if they are white all the way through- they are done!

Now, I fried up the garlic, ginger, and macadamia nut mixture.

I’m going to insist on mac nuts. Normally, I would say to be flexible and use what you have.

But the mac nuts take it over the top.

They really do!

Put your meat on a pan, and drizzle the most flavorful goodness over it.

Please note, I forgot to add a squeeze of lemon juice and about 1/4 cup of soy sauce.

You should not forget this step.

But rest assured, if you do, it will still be deeeee-lish!

Top with cilantro and green onion, and pop it on a plate!

I served it up with a roasted butternut squash casserole with blue cheese in it (recipe is coming soon). So stinking good.

I’m convinced that the garlic/ginger/mac nut along with the cilantro/green onion topping would be delicious on just about anything.

I’m thinking that I might need to try it on shrimp and scallops next.

Yes, I think so.

Know what would be perfect with this?

A pina colada.

Or a mai tai.

Or a glass of crisp white wine.

Have a great weekend!

If you are feeling inspired, transport yourself to the islands with this dish.

XO,

Leah

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