Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hawaiian Fish Dinner - Grilled Swordfish w/Panko-Crusted Tilapia

Before I tell you about this dish, I have to tell you what inspired this amazing yumminess.

Michael and I vacationed in Hawaii about two months ago. I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderful time we had. We spent plenty of time on the beach at Waikiki – me on the beach with a book and Michael snorkeling. We also spent some time watching surfers at Waimea Bay and reading on the beach/snorkeling on the reef at Hanauma Bay. We finished our days with mai-tais in the hotel’s hot tub. It was a wonderful week.

We didn’t make a big deal out of food while we were there but we both agreed that, on our last night, we would splurge on a really nice meal. We made reservations at The Hula Grill, located inside a hotel right on the beach at Waikiki. We sat on an open air deck, overlooking the ocean, and enjoyed live music from the band playing down below while we watched the sun slowly setting over the Pacific.

Our meal started with crusty Italian bread along with olive oil and the restaurant’s own Hula Grill Chili Pepper Water for dipping. The chili water/olive oil combination was new and different and completely delicious. Michael skipped the oil and dove head first into the chili water. Just dipping didn’t do the trick. He poured it over his bread until it was completely soaked. I think he even considered drinking it straight from the bottle. We bought a bottle from the restaurant so that I could thoroughly evaluate it and recreate it at home.

The bread and chili water were so impressive that we were pretty excited about the rest of the meal. Everything on the menu looked delicious. It was a tough decision, but we both ordered the chef’s special (grilled swordfish and panko-crusted opah).

Opah is a mild, white fish found in the South Pacific and it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. It was pan-fried with a coating of panko crumbs and dark sesame seeds. The swordfish was grilled with a slightly sweet glaze. They were served together with steamed veggies and a honey mustard sauce. I promised Michael that I would recreate the entire meal.  My version of our Hawaiian fish dinner is the photo at the top of this post.

Swordfish is easy to find in most places but Opah is a different story. Opah is a solitary fish, which makes it harder to catch. It’s pretty much impossible to find outside the South Pacific so I ended up using tilapia – another awesome white fish. It turned out really well. In fact, Michael swears that my version is better than the original. He is such a sweetheart!

Here is what you’ll need to make your own scrumptious Hawaiian fish dinner:

Two swordfish steaks
Two tilapia fillets
Panko crumbs
Chili powder
Sesame seeds
Dale’s low sodium marinade
Butter (about 2 tbsp)
Sunflower oil

Melt the butter and add a little bit of the Dale’s. Brush this mixture over the swordfish, covering both sides and set the swordfish aside.

Sprinkle a little bit of chili powder on each side of the tilapia. Combine panko crumbs and some sesame seeds. Coat the tilapia well with the mixture.

I use my Foreman grill for the swordfish, but you can cook them under the broiler if you don’t have an indoor grill.

For the tilapia, put some oil in a medium sized skillet. Don’t use too much, though. You don’t want the fish to be deep fried. When the oil is hot, add the fish and cook for about three minutes on each side or until the panko crumbs are a golden brown. Try to avoid turning the fish more than once to keep the crumbs from falling off. I always have crumbs left after I coat my fish and I like to toss some of them into the pan to cook alongside the fish. That gives me some extra ‘crispies’ to add to the plate when I’m serving the meal.

To serve, pour some honey mustard sauce on your plate (decoratively, of course) then add the swordfish and put the tilapia on top.To make your own honey mustard combine mayonnaise, mustard and honey to taste and mix them well.  For the topping, I used pineapple, green onions and red bell pepper in equal quantities. Just mix them together and you’ve got a sweet, peppery salsa.

For the chili water, combine rice wine vinegar, sugar, garlic and chili paste.  Start with lots of vinegar and plenty of sugar.  Add a couple of garlic cloves and the chili paste to taste.  It pairs well with Italian herb bread.

Aloha and mahalo!


  1. That looks amazing. Sounds like you had a great relaxing time. Jealous!!

    We would like to invite you to come back to Food Frenzy and share your food postings.

  2. I am sure you had a wonderful life in Hawaii! This fish looks terrific and by eating it you can contemplate on those days there!