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Florida Cuisine: How to Make Coconut Fish Nuggets

shows coconut fish nuggets with spicy sauce and salad

Have you vacationed in Florida and really enjoyed those exotic tastes of fresh coconut and flavors of Latin American cooking? Want to know how to take those culinary delights back home with you? It’s easy. I am a Florida local and will show you how.

Initially, I posted a picture of these fish nuggets on my personal Facebook page and got a huge response. I wasn’t going to post the recipe until I realized that South Florida cuisine is a foreign food to most people. Further, I made up this recipe based on some local ingredients. This was originally based on a quinoa fish nugget recipe from Cooking Light May 2017, but I changed it so much its not recognizable. I often use food from my favorite restaurants in addition to recipes from magazines to inspire my cooking.

To update this post I decided to add a smoked salmon recipe and also a seafood paella recipe. South Florida cuisine is not complete without mentioning the Spanish influence.

Likewise I often use Cooking Light as inspiration for my daily cooking as they have quick and healthy recipes. Therefore I have included these sponsored links for those that would like to order a subscription or get a “best of” book.

South Florida Cuisine


Florida cuisine coconut fish nuggets
  • 3/4 cup of crushed corn chips (great way to use up the crumbs at the bottom of the bag)
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup millet flour, (any flour will do)
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup 2 % milk
  • egg
  • a pound of halibut or cod fish cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. pickle relish
  • 1 tbsp. Frank’s hot sauce

We have a coconut tree out in front of our house. Consequently, every few weeks my husband cuts a bunch down and drills holes in them for the coconut water. During the rainy season the inside meat is gelatinous so I blend it up to use in recipes for coconut milk. During the rest of the year the inside meat is drier so I chop it up in my food processor, and toast it on parchment paper at a low temperature in the oven. Then I place it in a jar in my pantry until needed. It makes a great topping for salads in addition to using it for coating chicken and fish.

In addition here are sponsored links for the food processor I use plus additional kitchen gadgets:


  1. Initially, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Subsequently spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
  2. Next mix corn chips and toasted coconut on high in food processor in order to break up any remaining chunks of chips and place in a shallow dish.
  3. Then mix flours, paprika, lemon pepper, and garlic powder together in a separate dish.
  4. After that, mix egg and milk together in a shallow bowl.
  5. Then dredge fish pieces in flour to coat and dip in egg mixture.
  6. In addition, coat the pieces in the coconut/corn chip mixture. Place on the baking sheet, and coat with cooking spray.
  7. Consequently, bake for 14 minutes flipping half way through the cooking time.

Florida Cuisine: Spicy Sauces

Shows a picture of Florida cuisine: spicy tartar sauce
Spicy tartar sauce
shows typical Florida cuisine, fish nuggets with spicy honey sauce
spicy honey sauce

Meanwhile, mix mayonnaise, pickle relish, vinegar, and hot sauce in a bowl. I usually store it in a recycled mustard squeeze bottle. As a result it makes using it easier, plus you can shake away any lumps.

Similarly, you can mix equal parts of hot sauce and honey for a sweeter dipping sauce.

Salad Ingredients

  • greens (arugula, spinach, etc.)
  • sliced onion
  • tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • pepperocini
  • olives
  • chili dressing

Mainly you can mix whatever salad ingredients you want. I often add fresh herbs from my garden such as basil or parsley. Also I occasionally add mango when it is in season here. Cut the vegetables in whatever size you want and toss in a bowl. I usually scoop the seeds out of the cucumbers. Then I toss all the vegetable scraps in my compost. The seeds usually make for surprising garden growth during the spring.

Chili Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup honey

Mix ingredients together in a jar. Again, I recycle mustard squeeze bottles. They make great dressing and sauce containers.

Florida Cuisine: Smoked Salmon Sandwich

smoked salmon recipes

Wondering how to eat smoked salmon? A smoked salmon sandwich is a delicious breakfast or lunch. What is the difference between lox and smoked salmon? Lox is cured or brined before being smoked, while lox is cured in a brine without cooking. We usually get fresh salmon from Alaska which is frozen after being filleted, making it sushi grade. So we actually use raw salmon for recipes with smoked salmon and then sprinkle a little salt on top.

Ingredients for smoked salmon breakfast

  • bagels
  • smoked salmon
  • cream cheese
  • sliced tomato
  • capers
  • chopped green onion

To make this smoked salmon breakfast toast your bagels in a toaster or toaster oven. We like the extra flavor from using everything bagels, but you can use your favorite. Whole grain English muffins can be used for this smoked salmon sandwich as well. Once it’s toasted, spread cream cheese on both halves. Then top with sliced tomato, and capers. After that place slices of smoked salmon on top, and sprinkle with green onion. You can use sliced onion instead of green onion in these smoked salmon recipes for a more pungent flavor.

Florida Cuisine: Seafood Paella Recipe

seafood paella recipe

You can’t talk about South Florida cuisine without including Spanish food. This is an easy paella recipe with seafood to make at home. You can add peppers or artichoke hearts if you like. Sometimes I switch out the fire roasted tomatoes for Rotel for some extra spice, You can also add fresh tomatoes when you add the shrimp.

We have also made this recipe with octopus. Octopus can be very tough and rubbery. If you are going to use that in this seafood paella recipe, cook it in the broth for an hour prior to adding the other ingredients. Also, if you are using fresh clams or mussels put them in the pan at the same time as the shrimp and cook until the shells open. Discard and shellfish if the shells do not open.

Ingredients for paella seafood

  • 8 oz large shrimp peeled and de-veined
  • 8 oz. mixed seafood pre cooked
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 14oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 20 oz. chicken broth
  • 8 oz. white wine
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • chopped green onion for garnish

Directions for paella seafood

  1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil is heated cook the onions and canned tomatoes for about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Then add chicken broth, and boil. Lower heat and continue cooking for 30 minutes with the cover on.
  3. After that add the rice, peas, garlic, and seasonings. Once the liquid boils again, reduce heat and continue cooking without the lid. Stir frequently.
  4. When most of the broth is absorbed, add the wine. Continue cooking until wine is absorbed, stirring frequently.
  5. Once wine is almost completely absorbed, place shrimp and cooked seafood on top and cover. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until shrimp appear pink.
  6. Place in serving bowls and garnish with green onion.

Of course a good Florida beer goes well with our Florida cuisine. We recommend Miami Weiss, a Hefeweizen from Miami Beer. You can buy this at Total Wine.

Bon Appetit!

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Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

6 thoughts on “Florida Cuisine: How to Make Coconut Fish Nuggets”

  1. I’m a seafood lover, so I want to try this coconut fish nuggets. It looks delicious. And how fortunate to have a coconut tree on the front yard.

  2. I absolutely love seafood paella – just had lots of it during my stay on Mallorca. However, those fish nuggets look pretty tasty, too. I’d love mine with that zingy honey sauce. I’m just happy that you didn’t add some gator dish – since that’s what they forced on us in Florida 😉

  3. I have never been a huge fan of seafood, but I am always willing to give something a try. The spicy sauce is what caught my attention so even if I do not end up making the dish, I surely can make the sauce! Might be tasty as a marinade on chicken!

  4. I love Florida Cuisine, especially seafood. So I would like to try your Coconut Fish Nuggets recipes and Seafood Paella. It seems to be delicious.

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