For years, those in the know – and we include ourselves in this category – have been harping on about the multiple health benefits associated with eating fish. But we haven’t written too much about which varieties are best, which pack the greatest nutritional punch, and, quite frankly, which are the most delicious.
Enter Mahi Mahi, or Dolphin fish or Dorado as it is often called. Although often thought of as native to Hawaii, this fish likes its vacation spots, cropping up in warm water locales such as Florida and areas off the Pacific coast. When in the water, Mahi Mahi can be easily recognized by its blunt head and vibrant blue-green and yellow scales. Once out of the water, a quality Mahi Mahi steak or fillet can be identified by its relative odorlessness as well as by the texture of its flesh, which should give slightly when you press it with a finger, and should be moist to the touch.
As with most fish varieties, correct storage is imperative for both taste and safety (not that food poisoning isn’t a riot!) To store, remove all packaging, rinse fish under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen cloth. To avoid letting the fish sit in its own juices – which can promote deterioration – store the fish on a rack in a shallow tray filled with crushed ice. Cover completely with cling film and store for up to two days in the coldest part of the fridge. If freezing, invest in quality lined freezer paper and wrap the fish tightly and securely to create an airtight parcel. If these storage instructions are followed correctly, the fish will keep for up to two months.
One of the best things about Mahi Mahi is that it is available year round, in either fresh or frozen form, providing you, dear reader, with virtually endless culinary possibilities. In the winter, this mild-flavored fish is spectacular when brushed with oil, seasoned and baked with seasonal vegetables. In the warmer months, however, Mahi Mahi can add extra sizzle to summer barbeques when placed on a hot, greased grill and basted with butter, oil, lemon juice or marinade. Year round, one of our favorite methods is to poach the fish by bringing a mixture of water, broth, herbs and spices to a simmer and then adding the Mahi Mahi filets, covering, and cooking for roughly 8-10 minutes. Another popular preparation method – which is often done in restaurants but is easy to do at home – is to prepare Mahi Mahi with a crust. There are a number of potential “crust” toppings out there, but one particular recipe that caught our eye was one for macadamia crusted Mahi Mahi that required fillets to be dipped in milk then dredged in a mixture of 3 tbsp of finely chopped macadamia nuts, 1 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley, ½ tbsp of lemon zest, salt and pepper (to taste) and then placed on a rack in a baking pan and cooked at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. In all cases, to prevent overcooking – which is easily the biggest mistake people make when cooking Mahi Mahi – cook only until the flesh becomes translucent but still appears moist in the center (kind of hard to see with the crusted variety, but works well with the others). (Mahi is a low fat fish, so most recipes include a good deal of added oil, butter or coconut milk. Check back later today for some delicious recipes.)
This being a health blog, we should probably talk nutrition: Like most fish, Mahi Mahi is an extremely good source of protein and contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, Mahi Mahi is an excellent source of selenium, an antioxidant thought to have cancer protecting qualities, and vitamins B3 and B6. However, since Mahi Mahi can contain moderate levels of mercury (similar to that of tuna), it should be limited during pregnancy to about one serving per week.
Our verdict? Mahi Mahi is a versatile and healthy entrée option to add to your dinner repertoire!