Friday, November 11, 2011

Mahi-Mahi "Mojo" with Aleppo Pepper

The word, mahimahi, means "very strong" in Hawaiian. On the eastern coast of the United States, Americans use mahimahi --or  Mahi-Mahi -- to refer to the common dolphinfish.  A slightly odd looking fish, with a big head and long dorsal fin that runs the length of its body.  The oddness of the fish is lost in the beauty of its colors.  The body is an iridescent blue green, with golden fins and a forked tail.  The fish is a favorite amongst sport fishermen, who often look for floating debris or fish buoys, because such locations are often good spots to find these fish.

The dolphinfish is a sustainable fish, especially if caught in the Atlantic ocean.  Fishermen use troll and pole and line to catch dolphinfish along the east coast.  In addition, according to Seafood Watch, there is strict regulation when it comes to dolphinfish, thereby helping to keep the catch within manageable limits.  Add the fact that dolphinfish are fast growing and fast maturing fish, they are able to maintain their populations better than other fish.  Mahi-Mahi is also a good alternative along the western coast of the United States, as well as in Hawaii, but the regulations are not as strict as in the east.

This recipe starts with my own version of a "mojo," a Cuban marinade.  Typically, a mojo is made with sour orange juice, but I like using a combination of citrus, such as oranges, lemons and limes.  I have used a mojo marinade in the past, when I made Atun Mojo (or Tuna Mojo).  The marinade time is important because, if you let it marinate for too long, you will have ceviche.  For this recipe, I just wanted a hint of citrus in the flesh of the dolphinfish.  I let it marinate for about fifteen minutes.  It could marinate for a little longer, but I would not marinate the fish for longer than thirty minutes total. 

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2

1 pound of Mahi-Mahi, sliced into 2 fillets
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/2 avocado sliced
1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper
7 tablespoons of canola oil
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Several springs of thyme
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste

1.  Marinate the mahi-mahi.  Salt and pepper the Mahi-Mahi.  Add four tablespoons of canola oil, lemon juice, lime juice and orange juice to a Ziploc bag.  Add the fish and let it marinate for about fifteen minutes.  Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Saute the fish.  Pour the remaining oil into an oven-proof pan.  Heat on medium high heat.  Remove the fish from the marinade and pat dry.  Add the fish, skin side down.  Cook for about five minutes.  Cook each of the remaining sides for about a minute or two per side.  Return the fish to skin side down.

3.  Cook the fish.  Place the pan in the oven for at least five minutes.  Check the fish for firmness.  If the fish is firm to the touch, it is finished.  If it is not, cook it for a few minutes more. 

4.  Plate the dish.  Set the fish on top of the couscous.  Top the fish with slices of avocado and the zest from the lemon, lime and orange. Sprinkle the Aleppo pepper over the fish and couscous.


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