This is an easy, delicious way to bring your favorite fish filets to the table in a hurry! The nutty crunch of the pistachio crust is a low carb option to breading fish. It offers flavor to sometimes-bland white fish and can compliment robust-flavored fish filets like tuna or salmon.
What kind of Fish Works with this Recipe?
Just about any kind of fish filet can work with a pistachio nut crust. Just be aware of the thickness of the filets. Tilapia, sole, catfish, perch and other thin filets will cook very quickly, whereas salmon, cod and Chilean sea bass tend to be thicker and will take longer to cook.
Cod is the most common type of fish filet to make with a nut crust. This is partially because it is a thicker filet and partially because it is fairly bland and needs dressing up. I chose tuna for this recipe because I had some in the freezer, and also because it is robust enough to stand up to the pistachio crust.
How Can You Tell When Fish is Done?
The trick with seafood is always how long to cook it. It is really easy to overcook fish and it can get very rubbery if overcooked.
The best way to tell if a fish is done is by testing it with a fork. Insert the fork at an angle, at the thickest point, and twist gently. The fish will flake easily when it’s done, and it will lose its translucent or raw appearance.
Looking at the texture and the “translucency” is the easiest way to tell if your fish is done, and it gets easier with practice. Keep in mind that fish continues to cook for a couple minutes after you take it off the heat.
If you want to get more technical, a conservative rule of thumb is to cook the fish to an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees. Many people find this temperature range leads to over-cooked fish. It is more important if the fish is freshwater or lake fish as it could have parasites.
Also, know that medium-to-fatty fish with a firmer texture and richer flavor (like cod, salmon, or swordfish) can withstand more heat and therefore lend themselves to grilling or broiling.
Substitutions for the Pistachio Nuts
The caution for using nuts as a crust is they have a tendency to burn. Since the cooking process for fish is usually shorter and since the recipe below is baked vs. seared, it shouldn’t burn. Any ground up nut will work for the crust. Here are a few of the more popular nuts to use:
- pistachio nuts
- mix of pistachio and panko
- macadamia nuts
What to Serve with Nut-Crusted Fish Dinners
Making an entire healthy dinner with nut-crusted fish can be quick for weeknight dinners or a little more fancy for guests or special occasions. Below are some suggested side dishes that work well for casual or fancy!
Complimentary Vegetable Side Dishes
Vegetables are the crux of a good Pesco Mediterranean diet. Here are a few of my favorite veggies to pair with nut-crusted fish:
- quinoa spinach salad
- Moroccan carrots
- bok choi (link)
- romano beans and cherry tomatoes
- brussel sprout and cauliflower salad
- Trio of low carb side dishes
- steamed broccolini
Complimentary Grain Side Dishes
Because I am coming from a long-term lifestyle of low carb eating, I don’t usually include grains with my Pesco Mediterranean dinners. If you are eating for health and not weight loss however, whole grain side dishes are great, especially if complemented with vegetables.
- roasted potato wedges
- brown rice
- Major dinner winner! complete meal in less than 30 minutes – sign me up! The spinach quinoa side pairs especially well with this baked fish, but feel free to serve the fish with salad, sautéed veggies, rice or my lemon parsley cauliflower rice. This is easy enough to make for dinner after work, but if you make it for dinner guests, they’ll probably never guess how easy it was to throw together.
Complimentary Sauce for Nut-Crusted Fish
The nutty crust of the fish pairs beautifully with a wide variety of creamy sauces. Here are a few of my favorites, from low carb to tropical to sweet:
- Simple Dijon cream sauce: 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup dijon mustard, salt and pepper — heated and stirred over low heat for 3 minutes
- Tropical sauce of coconut milk, lime juice and jalapenos
- Sweet mango sauce with pear juice and coconut cream (quite sweet)
- Sour cream dill sauce: see recipe below
Pistachio Crusted Tuna
- Small pot
- Bowls and measureing spoons
- 1/4 cup chopped onion finely chopped
- 2 bay leafs
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dried dill divided
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt divided
- 1/4 cup panko
- 1/3 cup shelled pistachios finely chopped in food processor
- 4 4-ounce tuna steaks about 1-1 1/4 inches thick
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Place chopped onion, bay leafs and wine in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce over med-high heat until the wine is almost evaporated, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard bay leafs. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dill, mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the reduced onion/wine mixture to the bowl and stir in. This is the sauce.
- Place pistachios in food processor or blender and pulse or mix until finely ground. In a separate medium to large bowl, add the chopped pistachios, panko, the remaining 1 teaspoon dill and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir together thoroughly. Pat the tuna filets dry and then sprinkle a bit of olive oil over them and rub it in. Dredge both sides of the tuna in the pistachio mixture pressing it in so that it sticks.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coated tuna filets and sear until golden brown, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning. After 2 to 3 minutes flip the filets and cook the other side 2-3 minutes for medium-rare. Use tongs to turn over so that nut breading doesn’t fall off. Do not overcook. Serve with the lemon-dill sauce.