Around the table: Say ‘aloha’ to National Mac Nut Day

Every nut has its day and our beloved macadamia is on the pedestal today. Native to Australia, the nut was named for John McAdam, a Scottish chemist who first cultivated it. Hawaii welcomed the macadamia in the 1890s, and our combination of rain, sun and volcanic soils proved to be agricultural bliss for the little nut. We can now buy them in various spice or candy flavors, but the rich and buttery plain macadamia — raw or toasted — still offers the best flavor. Try it in these savory and sweet recipes to celebrate National Mac Nut Day.

Hot Macadamia Chicken Dip with Toast Points

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Crunchy roasted mac nuts top this creamy dip. Recipe by Adele McGee in the “Kona on my Plate” cookbook produced by Kona Outdoor Circle; makes 32 or more pupu servings.

8 slices homemade-style wheat bread

8-oz. package light cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons milk

1-1/2 cups cooked chicken or turkey meat, minced

1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

2 teaspoons butter

Remove crusts from bread and cut each slice into 4 triangles. Toast bread on a baking sheet in preheated 400 degree oven until browned and very crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth, with electric mixer or by hand. Stir in chicken, sour cream, horseradish, green pepper, onion, garlic salt and pepper. Spoon into an ungreased shallow 2-cup baking ramekin or crock. Set aside. In a skillet, saute mac nuts at medium heat in butter for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle over cream cheese mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with toast points.

Spicy Macadamia Noodles

Sweet mac nuts add balance to the spices in this easy recipe from my friend Leslie Mansfield, author of “The Mauna Loa Macadamia Cooking Treasury;” makes 4 to 6 servings.

3/4 cup chopped macadamias, lightly toasted

1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

3 scallions, chopped

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek

1/4 cup soy sauce

8 ounces spaghetti, cooked in boiling water until al dente, then drained

In the bowl of a food processor, combine nuts, cilantro, scallions, sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and sambal; process until smooth. With motor running, add soy sauce and process until combined. Pour mixture into a large serving bowl; add hot spaghetti, toss well, and serve immediately.

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Honey-Macadamia Crust

Chefs Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, authors of “Big Flavors of the Hot Sun,” suggest serving this with coconut rice and a pineapple-ginger relish. It’s almost too easy to taste so good; makes 4 servings.

Four 8-oz. mahi-mahi fillets, cut diagonally a half-inch thick

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup toasted macadamia nuts, crushed

Rub fillets lightly with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place fillets on grill over a medium-hot fire; cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side. While the second side is cooking, coat the exposed side lightly with honey and sprinkle with crushed macadamia nuts. Gently flip again; cook another minute or until crust is golden brown. Check for doneness by cutting into a piece; it should be completely opaque all the way through. Remove fish from grill, cut each in half, and serve with relish and rice of your choice.

Honey Phyllo Mac Nut “Cigars”

Back in the heyday of Kona Village Resort, Chef Mark Tsuchiyama shared this easy, creative sweet treat featuring mac nuts and local honey.

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup honey (preferably Volcano Island white honey)

3 sheets phyllo dough

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1 cup melted butter

In a bowl, mix together the macadamia nuts, cinnamon and honey; set aside. Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a clean counter; brush with melted butter. Repeat with a second sheet of phyllo and butter on top of the first layer, then the third sheet and butter. Cut the dough into quarters, roughly 6×6 inches. Place honey-mac nut mixture on top of buttered dough. Roll each quarter into the size of a cigar. Cut away any excess dough. Brush with melted butter again. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve alone, with Kona coffee, or with ice cream.