Chef rolls out his pistachio-crusted whitefish for an appreciative crowd

By Cindy Hudson

A recent Recipe for Health event at Michigan State University celebrated National Seafood Month (October) with a cooking demonstration by Chef Rajeev Patgaonkar, Executive Sous Chef at MSU’s Kellogg Center State Room restaurant.

Chef Rajeev whipped up his own recipe for pistachio-crusted whitefish with citrus spinach salad for a crowd at Brody Square Cafeteria. This recipe, along with one for chardonnay-poached whitefish with couscous, are included in Michigan Sea Grant’s Wild Caught and Close to Home cookbook.

Chef Rajeev makes the preparation look easy as he demonstrates and explains each step. Photo: Cindy Hudson
Chef Rajeev gets ready to plate the whitefish with the salad. Photo: Cindy Hudson
The dish is as tasty as it is beautiful, and the citrus vinaigrette draws rave reviews from the crowd. Photo: Cindy Hudson
The Recipe for Health event series features live cooking demonstrations at Michigan State University. Photo: Cindy Hudson
Chef Rajeev prepares a tray of the whitefish in advance so there’s enough for the audience to sample. Photo: Cindy Hudson

Pistachio-crusted whitefish

Executive Sous Chef Rajeev Patgaonkar, MSU Kellogg Center

Makes: 4 servings

1 cup dry breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons packed fresh parsley
½ teaspoon garlic powder
4 skinless Great Lakes whitefish fillets (3 oz. each)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup nonfat plain (unsweetened) yogurt


  1. Heat oven to 400⁰F.
  2. Pulse breadcrumbs, pistachios, parsley, and garlic powder in food processor until nuts are roughly chopped. Pour breadcrumb/pistachio mixture onto parchment paper.
  3. Season whitefish fillets with salt and pepper. Coat tops of the fillets with yogurt. Sprinkle breadcrumb/pistachio mixture on top of the yogurt and press firmly.
  4. Place fillets, breadcrumb/pistachio-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake in hot oven until fish is no longer translucent in the center, about 10 minutes. Finish under the broiler until breadcrumb/pistachio mixture is browned, about 2 minutes.
  6. Serve with Citrus Spinach Salad.

Citrus spinach salad

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients for salad
1 bunch raw baby spinach
12 orange segments
12 grapefruit segments
½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
12 grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

Ingredients for vinaigrette
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 large shallot, quartered
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch of cayenne pepper


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine spinach, orange segments, grapefruit segments, red onion, and tomatoes.
  2. Purée vinaigrette ingredients in blender or food processor, then slowly drizzle over salad mixture until lightly coated.


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