Hali`imaile General Store’s Super Ono Ono Recipe
Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef, previously working in Portland, Oregon. She offers her blunt assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.
By Vanessa Wolf
Variations on ‘macadamia nut-encrusted catch of the day’ can be found on many a Maui menu. What makes Beverly Gannon’s Hali`imaile General Store version a standout is the rich, tangy mango buerre blanc sauce the fish is served upon.
The recipe can be found in The Hali`imaile General Store Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2000.) With fresh ono on hand and mango nearing its end, Maui Now took a run at preparing it in our own kitchen.
MACADAMIA NUT-CRUSTED ONO WITH MANGO-LIME BUTTER
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mango
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
Juice of 2 limes
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, whole or pieces
- 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 cup good-quality mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha (Thai garlic-chili paste)
- 6 (6-ounce) ono fillets
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil, for sautéing
To prepare the mango-lime butter, in a saucepan combine the mango, wine, sugar, ginger, and lime juice and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, until thick and syrupy. Add the cream, mix well, and remove from the heat. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth. Return to the saucepan and simmer over low heat for 8 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. Add the butter, a piece at a time, and stir until incorporated before adding the next piece. Be careful not to boil the sauce, or it will separate. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
To prepare the coating, place the nuts, panko, and basil in a food processor and process until fine. Spread on a plate. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise and chili paste and mix well. Lightly season the fish with salt and pepper. Evenly spread a light coat of the chili mayonnaise on one side of each fish fillet. Coat the same side evenly with the coating.
In an ovenproof sauté pan or skillet, pour in just enough oil to coat the bottom and heat over medium heat. (Be careful not to heat the pan too hot or the macadamia nuts will burn.) Add the fish, crust side down, and sauté for 3 minutes, until golden brown. Turn the fish and place in the oven for 5 minutes, until cooked through and firm to the touch.
The sauce went together easily, although it took longer than five minutes for the mango, wine, and lime juice combo to achieve a syrupy consistency. Be sure to let it cool, as well, before putting it into the blender and definitely strain it afterwards to remove the stringy mango bits. After adding the butter, taste the sauce. You’ll probably find it a bit key lime pie-ish, so add salt and pepper in small amounts, tasting it each time. When there is sufficient saltiness to balance the sweet, it’s done!
The 4:1 panko to macadamia nut ratio resulted in very little macadamia nut flavor, and you may prefer to roughly chop them and use them as a garnish instead. To retain the crunch of the panko, consider skipping the blender step, opting to chiffonade (stack the pieces, roll them tight and cut the thinnest slices you can) the basil and combine it with the panko directly.
Our version was pan-fried, as firing up a 450-degree oven in August on Maui sounded too hot to handle, but it turned out great. Ono (also known as Wahoo) is one of the leanest fish in the sea, so it’s better to err on the side of undercooking it: throw it back in the pan for a minute later, if need be.
Served atop Okinawan sweet potatoes and perhaps with a side of asparagus, kale, or sautéed bok choy, this dish features rich balanced flavors unique to the islands. In addition to the outstanding play on tangy and rich, Bev Gannon’s Macadamia nut-crusted ono with mango lime butter is a visual stunner, perfect for those hoping to impress the boss, the in-laws, or a hot date.
WHO MAKES THE BEST REUBEN ON MAUI? A reader has challenged us to find the “best” authentic Reuben on Maui. Let us know who you would give the honor to…and we’ll start the taste tests there. Leave a comment below. Mahalo in advance!
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