"They didn't have hazelnuts so I got macadamia nuts instead." My dad said as he came into the house on Friday afternoon with a bag of groceries from his favorite produce store in Costa Mesa.
“That’s fine,” my mom responded with an indifferent shrug.
I stared at her in horror. “Fine?! But, but…”
“They’re out of season.” My dad interjected before I could begin my tirade.
“It’s not worth chasing around a hundred grocery stores to find. It’s only food.” My mom pointed out.
“Only… food?” I asked, confused.
Was she joking? My eyes glazed over as I contemplated the woman before me -- the woman who supposedly gave birth to me, the woman who provided me with half my foodie genes, and the woman who taught me how to bake chocolate chip cookies, sear a steak and cook perfect scrambled eggs.
Was she really insinuating that macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are interchangeable? And that it didn’t matter which one we used?
“I’ll stop at Trader Joe’s on the way back from my hair appointment. They’ll have them there.” I announced. I was not backing down now.
My mom sighed. “Whatever you want to do.”
Three hours later, I returned to my parents’ house with the hazelnuts plus some impulse purchases of Pellegrino, baby carrots, TJ’s new tart fro-yo (eh), and sweet chili sauce.
“They had them!” I called out as I strode through the door with my loot.
My mom shook her head in bewilderment.
“You’ll thank me later.” I said with a smirk, and then got to work in the kitchen.
An hour and a half later, my parents and I sat down to the culmination of my vision for our Friday night supper that was inspired by 230 Forest Ave.’s hazelnut crusted halibut served with papaya relish, a duo of sauces, and sweet potato mash. My version of the hazelnut crusted halibut was served with a simple tomato relish, fresh corn, mango sauce, and a heap of sweet potato mash.
“Ok, you were right. The hazelnuts are better.” My mom said sheepishly, as she scraped up the last bit of sauce on her empty plate.
My dad remained silent, but I know he was thinking the same thing. (His plate was empty too.)
I smiled smugly and popped a stray nut into my mouth. It tasted like… victory. Game over. I win.
Hazelnut crusted halibut w/ tomato relish, fresh corn, mango sauce, and sweet potato mash
Inspired by dish at 230 Forest Ave. in Laguna Beach
4 halibut filets
Put hazelnuts in food processer and process until coarsely ground. Place equal parts hazelnuts and panko into a glass pan and bake at 350 until lightly toasted.
Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk egg into a bowl (may need two depending on size of fish).
Dip filets in egg wash and then into the hazelnut/panko combination. Cook in nonstick skillet until golden brown on both sides. Place in glass baking dish and bake filets for approximately 5-10 minutes (depending on thickness of fish) until just cooked through.
Sweet Potato Mash
2 sweet potatoes
1 russet potato
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup milk
Bake sweet potatoes and russet at 400 degrees for one hour or until soft. Remove skin and mix it with the brown sugar, butter, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Beat with electric beater until smooth. Microwave on high for two minutes before serving.
1 ripe mango
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Juice from ¼ a lime
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Combine ingredients and using an immersion blender or blender, puree until smooth. Heat in sauce pan over low heat just prior to serving.
2 vine-ripened tomatoes (or 1 large), diced
2 tablespoons red onion, finely minced
1 green onion, chopped
Juice from ¼ a lime
Combine ingredients, and set aside for an hour to allow flavors to blend.
1 ear of corn, boiled and husked
Serve a heaping mound of sweet potatoes on the side of the plate. Lean halibut against the potatoes, and drizzle mango sauce around the front of the plate. Top with tomato relish and corn. Sprinkle with optional paprika and serve.