By Ernest Barteldes
It took a ten-hour flight two years ago to convince me to learn recipes based on mahi-mahi, the saltwater fish that is almost synonymous with the Hawaiian Islands (the name translates as “strong” in the native language of the state). But that was not my introduction to that kind of fish – I later learned that mahi-mahi is also known as ‘dorado’ thanks to its gold-like color – it is a pretty common kind of fish that is found around tropical waters around the world.
What I like about it is the fact that it is a very firm fish that cooks well in various ways – I have baked and grilled it with very satisfying results – it doesn’t flake easily in the oven, and it’s nice and juicy when grilled.
The first time I tried mahi-mahi made Hawaiian style was when Renata and I visited a place called Pagoda ‘Floating’ Restaurant http://www.pagodahawaii.com/ – one of the less tourist-y places we got to know on the island of Oahu. I recall that it was a very quiet night, and there were few patrons present there. Thankfully it was not located on the crowded Waikiki but in what too seemed to be a more residential area, so the prices were quite affordable – especially because it was one of various Groupon promotions I found before we left. I don’t recall exactly what dish I selected, but I as memory serves it was a bit Asian-inspired with a tropical touch.
It is not hard to find mahi-mahi in New York – I usually buy it frozen at Trader Joe’s during my weekly visits to their store on W 21st Street (a location that used to be a Barnes & Noble store), but I am sure that other stores carry it – just not in my neighborhood until it becomes sufficiently gentrified.
Anyway, when we returned from Hawaii (and yes, I am still trying to convince Renata to relocate there) I started looking for traditional dishes from there that did not include poi or other impossible to find ingredients. Sure, there was a lot of stuff made with SPAM but there were also many seafood dishes that inspired us – so we were willing to give them a try.
Almost two years on, I must say that some of these dishes stayed with us – sure, mixing sweet ingredients with peppers and onions might sound strange for some, but by now it has become second nature alongside Brazilian, Caribbean and Polish dishes.
One that we fell in love with is quite simple – marinate the fish, bake it with a mix of tropical ingredients and enjoy…
Polynesian Style Mahi Mahi
(Recipe from Food.com)
2 (4 ounce) Mahi fillets
2 cups lemon juice
dried thyme to taste dried basil to taste
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks,
1/2 cup coconut milk
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.
2. Arrange the Mahi Mahi fillets in the prepared baking pan. Pour lemon juice over the fillets, and sprinkle with thyme and basil. Top each fillet with pineapple. Pour milk into the pan, not directly on the fish.
3.Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until fish flakes easily with a fork