Best Way to Cook Mahi Mahi? Blackened or Grilled
So what's the best way to cook mahi mahi?
Mahi Mahi, also known as Dolphin and Dorado is one of the most versatile, table-friendly fish you can pull out of the ocean, and in this article, we're exploring the question: what's the best way to cook mahi mahi?
In this article, we explore two of the most popular ways of preparing this delicacy of the sea.
Bright, tropical colors, big blunt head, and some of the sweetest, firmest, flakiest flesh in the sea, mahi mahi is as a good on the table as it is on the line.
Often found in nearshore waters, mahi mahi like to hang out near the surface, hiding under floating structure like weed rafts and other debris. As far as pelagic species go, mahi mahi are one of the most readily available and easiest to catch, and with their high food value, they're the perfect species for anglers wanting to venture into deeper waters but still come home for dinner.
From a culinary perspective, mahi mahi fillets offer everything you could ever want. Firm but tender, mild but flavorful, moist but not delicate — mahi mahi is a joy to cook and is very difficult to mess up.
Best Way to Cook Mahi Mahi
Being such a versatile fish, you can use mahi mahi in practically any recipe that calls for fish. That said, there are two preparations — blackened and grilled — that stand out among the many options and variations.
Both blackened and grilled mahi mahi are delicious in their own right, but let's take a closer look at each preparation to see if there's a clear winner.
You can "blacken" just about anything edible. Chicken and fish are the most popular proteins that receive the blackening treatment, but blackened vegetables are delicious as well.
It's a common misconception that the dark color of blackened food is the result of cooking the meat or fish until it is charred over or burnt. But really, blackened food develops it's beautiful dark crust from a combination of spices and high heat cooking in butter or oil.
Mahi Mahi is the perfect fish to blacken as its firm texture stands up to high heat very well without drying out. And although it has a relatively mild flavor, the taste of mahi mahi doesn't get drowned out or overwhelmed by the blackening spices.
First, you need blackening spices. You can take the easy route and buy pre-blended blackening spices, or you can go the DIY route and blend your own.
There are too many variations on blackening spice blends to list, but the core of the mixture is salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Other spices commonly added to the mix are garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, and thyme.
Blackening seasoning should be salty and have a moderately spicy kick, but shouldn't be too overwhelming in the heat department. You should be able to use a liberal amount of the seasoning to give your mahi mahi that classic blackened appearance and flavor without burning your taste buds from excess spiciness.
Once you have your blackening spices, all you need is mahi mahi fillets cut into portion-sized pieces, butter, cooking oil, and a cast iron pan. You can use a non-cast iron pan, but the even heat dispersal of cast iron ensures that your fish will be evenly seared on the outside and thoroughly cooked in the middle.
Step 1: Place cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Add oil to the pan and bring it up to heat. The oil should be very hot before adding the fish, just before the smoking point.
Step 2: Coat the mahi mahi in melted butter.
Melt enough butter in a pan to thoroughly coat every surface of the fillets. Dip the mahi mahi so that it's completely covered in butter.
Step 3: Dredge the mahi mahi in blackening spices.
Take your butter coated fillets and coat them with the blackening spices. Use enough spice that every square inch of the fillet is covered, use even more if you like your fish spicy.
Step 4: Place mahi mahi in the skillet.
Carefully place the fillets in the hot oil. Once sizzling in the oil, DO NOT TOUCH THEM until it's time to flip. The key to a perfect blackened surface is to get a good sear on the fish. If you move the fillet prematurely it could stick to the bottom and the spices might come off. Let the fillet cook uninterrupted for three or four minutes until it pulls away from the bottom of the pan without sticking.
Step 5: Flip the mahi mahi only once.
If all goes well, you should be able to cook the fillets while developing a delicious blackened crust by flipping only one time. Carefully lift the fillets with a sturdy spatula and flip them gently. Once flipped, DO NOT TOUCH THEM. Cook for three or four minutes until the fillet has a nice crust and lifts away from the skillet with ease.
Step 6: Serve and enjoy!
Depending on the power of your burner or cooktop, the fish may need more or less time to cook all the way through. Use your best judgment, and if you're not sure, use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness.
Blackened mahi mahi is best ways to cook mahi mahi! It's best served piping hot, served straight from the pan to the plate. Serve it alongside a nice portion of steamed vegetables and perhaps some rice and you've got one of the most simple-yet-satisfying meals you'll ever cook.
While blackened mahi mahi follows a loosely-specific recipe and procedure, grilled mahi mahi gives you more freedom over the end result, serving as a foundation for an unlimited number of creative recipes.
Grilled mahi mahi is simply mahi mahi that has been cooked on a grill or barbecue. You can use either a propane or charcoal grill, with the former giving you a slightly purer flavor and the latter infusing the fish with a welcome smokiness.
Since mahi mahi has relatively firm flesh, you don't have to worry about overcooking it or having it dry out on the grill like you do with other more delicate fish. Just coat the mahi mahi fillets with oil or butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper or your favorite spice blend and cook it straight on the grill grates.
Try to limit the number of times you flip the mahi mahi fillets on the grill. Two to three minutes per side is generally enough time, but if you flip too soon, the fillets could stick to the grill.
The grill should be set to medium to medium-high heat. Mahi mahi holds up well to heat, but you don't want to go too high as it could get overly charred and dried out.
Once you've grilled your mahi mahi, you can use it in any number of recipes. Let it cool and serve it on top of a fresh salad, shred it and put it in tacos, or simply eat it with a healthy serving of grilled veggies and a nice glass of white wine or a bottle of cold beer.
No matter how you cook it, mahi mahi is simply delicious. Choosing one preparation over the other is difficult since they're both so good, but here a few things to consider next time you have some fresh caught mahi mahi ready to cook.
For fans of butter and spice... Blackened mahi mahi is the without a doubt the best way to cook mahi mahi. This classic preparation requires very few ingredients, is relatively easy to make, and is always a crowd pleaser.
For fans of versatility or those looking for a low-fat preparation... Grilled mahi mahi is the best way to cook amhi mahi. Grilling allows the true flavor of mahi mahi to shine through making it the perfect addition to other recipes.
We hope this quick guide to the "best way to cook mahi mahi" sparked new ideas to try out in the kitchen next time you bring home some the big, beautiful mahi mahi from a successful day spent fishing.