Friday, July 27, 2018

My oh my it's Mahi Mahi

Our supermarket fishseller had mahi mahi for sale this past week. I’ve heard the name and seen it on menus, but I can’t recall ever eating it, much less cooking it. This particular batch came (frozen, then thawed) from Indonesia, which means it traveled ten thousand miles to land on my dinner plate. (Wait—don’t we have an ocean pretty close to here? Why are we sending fish halfway around the world?)

But I am not one to avoid a challenge. I will take on the mighty mahi mahi! Just as soon as I find a recipe for it. 

I’ve been collecting cookbooks for a long time—some inherited, some bought at flea markets, some snatched from the hands of the author at an event. Some have antique recipes, others have foreign recipes. I use many of them, because I love to experiment.

But I could not find a single recipe for mahi mahi in any of my cookbooks, even the one from Australia, which is closest to the source of the fish. Hmmm.

So somewhat reluctantly I turned to the Internet, where I found several recipes. The thing is, they all seemed to be minor variations on the same recipe. All involved butter, lemon juice and garlic, with maybe an herb or two added, like basil. The only outlier included spreading mayonnaise over the fish and baking it.

Clearly this is a fish that is meant to stand alone. Of course, anything is better with butter and garlic, right? So I decided make it this once and cross one more thing off my food bucket list. I’ll add that you may be seeing a lot more of it in your own stores, because it reproduces quickly and is found in temperate, tropical and subtropical waters and is apparently easy to catch. But it still has to make the long (and expensive?) trip to our local markets.

Mahi Mahi with Garlic Butter (the simplest recipe)


4 4-oz mahi mahi filets (for two people, I used one 8-ounce filet)

3 Tblsp butter, divided
1 Tblsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
zest and juice of one lemon
1 Tblsp fresh parsley, chopped


Melt 1 Tblsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the olive oil. Add the mahi mahi filets and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden, turning once (about three minutes per side). Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 Tblsp butter to the skillet. Then add the garlic and cook for about one minute. Stir in the lemon juice and zest and the parsley.

Return the mahi mahi filets to the skillet and spoon the sauce over them. Serve!

My report? Mahi mahi is a chewy fish with not much distinctive flavor. No bones, which is good. It holds together well in cooking. I think a stronger sauce would make it more interesting. Maybe next time, if it ever reappears at our market. 

I’d love to put in a request at the market for some of the odder varieties of fish that show up in my Australian cookbook, like barramundi or yabbies (a kind of freshwater crayfish) or snook, whatever that is. I’d make you recipes from that cookbook, but no way will I find most of the ingredients locally (but it’s a lot of fun to read the recipes!). 

Murder at the Mansion, the first Victorian Village mystery, is rolling happily along--it's been sitting solidly among the top ten mystery bestsellers on Pub Alley.

Thank you to those who have bought it. And if you haven't, you're missing a great beach read!

Read some of the very nice reviews here.


  1. I can get frozen barramundi here. It’s a pretty mild white fish. I used to get mahi mahi at a local restaurant. They usually served it topped with mango salsa.

    1. My fish lady told me she had a stash of barramundi in the market freezer--maybe I can persuade her to give me a piece. My Australian cookbook has a great recipe for it.

  2. Mahi is pretty common on Key West menus--it mostly seems to be served grilled.

  3. Mahi mahi seems to be a standard on menus here in the Houston area. It is usually grilled, maybe with a salsa garnishing it. You will not find it in New Orleans style dishes or rolled in cornmeal and fried ala Gulf Coast!

  4. Love Mahi Mahi. Great share.

  5. I don't believe I've ever had mahi mahi. If I have it must not have been that memorable.

  6. I think there is a classic Julia Child episode with her with a whole mahi mahi fish!
    It is marvelous.
    The fish is firm and takes well to seasoning. It does not have an assertive flavor on its own.