Coconut Fish with Mango-Chili Butter

Coconut Fish with Mango-Chili Butter

Who doesn’t love a nice pat of compound butter to finish a delicious piece of meat or fish?

This recipe features coconut-crusted fried fish and an exquisite mango-chili butter with shallot and lime. It’s a few steps, so you probably won’t be cooking this on a tired Wednesday night, but next time you want to make something that will really knock your socks off, here you go.


What is compound butter?
Compound butters are a simple way to add significant flourish to a dish. To make compound butter, all you have to do is leave a stick of butter on the counter until it’s nice and soft, mix in a few flavoring ingredients, and then roll it in plastic or wax paper and toss it in the fridge to resolidify. It can be done with all sorts of different flavors, both sweet and savory, and the resulting compound butters can be used in lots of different ways. They’re perfect for finishing a piece of fish, as in this recipe, or a nicely seared steak, but they can also make a great appetizer with bread or serve to take your morning toast game to the next level.

What I love most about compound butters is the room for creativity. I have made butters with all sorts of ingredients, from lobster and champagne vinegar, to fruit or nettle powders. The potential for new flavors is literally endless. And who doesn’t love an excuse to eat a bit more butter?


Coconut Fried Fish
For me, there is little better in the world than a nicely fried piece of fish. In this recipe I was following a Thai inspiration, so I opted for tilapia filets and a coconut and panko breading. The coconut adds a subtle sweetness, and the panko makes sure that there is ample crunch. With a nice pat of butter melting over the crispy fish, this recipe is tough to beat.


Mango-Chili Butter
I categorized this dish with my Thai recipes mostly because of the compound butter. The flavors of mango, chilies, shallot, and lime speak to me of Thai curries, and the coconut breading on the fish is the last piece of the puzzle. This butter would also be great on chicken or pork, grilled fish or shrimp, or even just a bit of toast. And, for sweet purposes, you can just omit the shallots. It’s a versatile collection of flavors, and I hope you enjoy it.


coconut fried fish with mango chili compound butter


Coconut Fish with Mango Chili Butter

Mango Chili Butter:
1 stick butter
4 tbsp mango powder (from freeze-dried mango)
2 tbsp shallot, minced (optional)
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp crushed red pepper

Coconut Fish:
2 lbs. fish filets (the photo is tilapia)
1½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
2 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut


Mango Chili Butter:
Leave the butter on the counter for a few hours until it is quite soft.

Blitz the freeze-dried mango pieces in a food processor until they are a fine powder.

Mash together the butter, mango powder, shallot, red pepper flakes, and lime juice until well-mixed and uniform.

Spoon the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form the butter into a tight roll and then twist the ends up and secure with a rubber band or piece of tape. Place this roll in the refrigerator to resolidify.

If you omit the shallots, this also makes a great sweet and spicy butter for slightly different applications.

Coconut Fish:
Stir together the flour, salt and garlic powder on a plate. On another plate, crack and beat the eggs (one at a time, if two is too much volume for the plate). On a third plate, mix together the panko and dried coconut. This is your breading station.

Add around ½ inch of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, and bring up to around 350 degrees F while you bread the fish filets. To bread the filets, dredge them in flour, dip them in egg, and then toss them in the panko and coconut mixture until well-covered. Once breaded, they can go immediately into the hot oil.

Fry the fish, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides. When nicely browned and crisp, remove the filets to a plate covered with paper towels so that they can drain excess oil. Salt liberally when they come out of the pan and are still hot.

To serve, plate a still-warm fried fish filet and top it with a generous pat of compound butter. The butter will melt and sauce the fish. Add a lime wedge for extra acid and a bit of rice and beans, and you have yourself an excellent plate.


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