A Cashew Crusted Staple from Off the Hook

Good Bite

Off the Hook Seafood Restaurant, 6630 Gateway Avenue, Sarasota, 941-923-5570

Sometimes greatness declares itself like a hammer to the head. Other times, greatness goes about its business quietly, neither seeking nor shunning the limelight. Off the Hook in Gulf Gate is the latter. Proprietor and chef Wes Duval operates his seafood restaurant as a model of consistency, churning out his greatest hits with fish so fresh they basically swam straight into the kitchen, and all the while trusting that his food will speak for itself.

One such greatest hit has been the cashew crusted presentation. Like many of the entrees, Duval often excludes the protein in the menu listing so that diners feel empowered to choose from a variety of surf and turf options. A “presentation” refers to the sides, sauces and the manner in which the protein is cooked, though even this can be customized. On a recent Saturday, Duval happened to get his hands on some fresh Mahi Mahi that made it onto the menu of possible fish for the cashew crusted presentation.

The crispy cashew crust envelops Mahi Mahi so fork-tender it almost eats like a big croquette stuffed with flaky, lean fish that barely requires mastication. It sits atop a bed of soba noodles, mushrooms and broccoli tossed in a coconut curry sauce so rich and exquisitely spiced it could probably be served as a hot beverage on its own. The swanky squiggle of chili sauce on the rim of the plate, though used to doll up the plating, serves as a great pit stop for a forkful of fish to add a touch of heat and complexity.

Off the Hook Seafood Restaurant, 6630 Gateway Avenue, Sarasota, 941-923-5570

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