Another day means another opportunity to be thankful for the diverse array of gifts from the sea that decorate and spice up plates both at homes and restaurants. Of all those gifts, one that stays particularly close to our hearts is fish. From the classic familiars such as salmon, tuna, and trout, fish as a source of protein needs no new introduction for being both nutritious and delicious.
Now, the taste of the fish meat that our palates are acquainted to may not need a description to most of our readers, but what about fish with an exotic availability such as mahi-mahi? What does mahi mahi taste like? If you are curious about all things mahi-mahi and most importantly, how it tastes like, you rut are in luck for mahi-mahi is our fish of the day.
What Is Mahi-Mahi?
First of all, our fellow readers, what is mahi-mahi? The name mahi-mahi itself is derived from the Polynesian word, directly translating to “Strong-Strong”. Physically, it is described as having a spectacularly vibrant hue to its body, notably a neon blue with iridescent green on the upper parts of its body and yellowish tinge or silvery white belly with speckles of colourful gold, black and bright blue.
In terms of shape, they exhibit an elongated body with a narrowing head; with male having a flatter head than females, whilst females have rounded heads. Its physical illustration alone especially with the distinct colors of green and blue make this a breathtaking fish to witness on the surface of the sea. Unfortunately though, once the fish is caught and is taken out from the sea, their color cells (chromatophores) undergo changes leading to a yellow to greyish color upon death.
Mahi-mahi is also famous by its other nicknames such as dorado and dolphin fish. Out of the two, dolphin fish caused a great misnomer leading to a controversy a culinary decades ago when it comes to eating dolphin fish meats or mahi-mahi meat.
But fret not, dolphin fish and dolphin are two different creatures. Dolphins as we know are mammals and on the other hand mahi-mahi are fish. While it is illegal to hunt and eat dolphins, the mammals, in most parts of the world, mahi-mahi catching is sustainable and is in fact one of the most popular fish for consumption in some regions.
Why Should You Eat Mahi-Mahi?
From the sea to our plates, one must wonder what mahi-mahi can offer to our bodies for nutritional sustenance. This fish boasts an abundance of beneficial nutrients and is even recommended by Healthline as one of the top healthiest fish options out there. Altogether, the nutrients in mahi-mahi are attributed to anti-inflammatory properties and protective against cardiovascular diseases, just to name a few. Here is a list containing some of the nutritional benefits of mahi-mahi:
Per one serving of a mahi-mahi fillet (204g), there is a good total of 37.7g protein that can be consumed. This is not a surprise for a powerhouse fish, even better, providing the substantial nutrient at a low calorific value. Protein breaks down into amino acids, which is essentially the building blocks of all cells in our body, and yes, mahi-mahi is rich in that. So, if anyone needs a routine substitution to their protein sources; chicken, beef or pork, think mahi-mahi.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Mahi-mahi fillet is a generous source of both Omega-3 & Omega-6 fatty acids. More importantly, as a fish containing Omega-3 fatty acid, mahi-mahi contributes to a better cardiovascular outcome in our bodies. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIH), evidence recommended that food rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acid should be included in a heart-healthy diet. Other benefits of this nutrient also include relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and it is also substantial to the function of eyes and brain.
3. Vitamin B
Who would have thought that a fish, in this case, the mahi-mahi is also rich in Vitamin B? If mahi-mahi is added to your diet, you can boost your Vitamin B intake, particularly Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6. According to Healthline, Vitamin B, in women, particularly in pregnant or breastfeeding mothers can aid in fetal neurological growth as well as preventing birth defects.
In men, it is postulated that Vitamin B may encourage the production of testosterone, however recent evidence is not yet conclusive. In general, Vitamin B is known as being beneficial to our bodies, from being essential in our brain function to maintaining a healthy appetite, just to name a few.
Mahi-mahi is one of the seafood known for it’s high potassium value. This mineral is known as an important electrolyte in the body ensuring that we are performing at an optimum level. More importantly, potassium maintains the rhythm of our heart at a steady and normal pace and is also actively involved in muscular functions as well as nerve signalling.
What Does Mahi Mahi Taste Like?
Now that you are convinced on why you should eat mahi-mahi due to its abundance of health benefits, here comes the next interesting bit. How do you describe the flavor of mahi-mahi? What is the taste that lures tourists to regions such as Hawaii where it is freely available?
To put simply, mahi-mahi is a lean fish making its meat comparable to white meat such as cods and halibuts. However, most foodies would agree that mahi-mahi has a firmer texture and has a slightly more exotic taste than its counterpart, the halibut. This can be attributed to the climates preferred by the two different fish, while mahi-mahi prefers warm tropical oceans, halibuts prefers the colder temperature. This renders a warm note with slight tropical sweetness to mahi-mahi.
In addition, it is also closely similar and comparable to swordfish, a speeding predatory fish, in the sense that they both have a moist, mildly sweet and dense. Due to its low fat content, mahi-mahi has a nicely firm texture and a nice, pleasant flaky bite to it. Nevertheless, it would be fair to say that each fish has its own distinctive taste and to categorize them under the same umbrella would be incorrect. Regardless, one word is best to describe mahi-mahi : DELICIOUS.
Criteria To Consider When Buying Mahi-Mahi
To begin with, let’s start by talking about the territories of freshly caught mahi-Mahi. To buy a top-notched, freshly caught mahi-mahi you would have to be near a tropical and subtropical ocean, making it a fish with an exotic availability. The fish is found mostly in the South Atlantic and Carribean and it has a tourism implication for foodies visiting Hawaii.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the ability to pop up to Hawaii when you are in for a mahi-mahi craving on a late Sunday afternoon. So your best bet is to get them from a seafood purveyor or fish sections at your local supermarket, both in fresh or frozen filleted forms. As with most fish, the few criteria to look for when buying fresh mahi-mahi include:
The green and blue hues of mahi-mahi may be altered once they die as their chromatophores deactivate. For sure freshness, look for the notable iridescent blue-green with golden speckles which Mahi-Mahi is known for. After they die, the skin colour may change to a silver and grey hue but overall, all good mahi-mahi should exhibit a shiny and moist skin. In terms of meat, look for a pink to beige colour to the meat, unlike halibut which normally has white meat.
As a general rule of thumb, all fish will have a slight ocean smell. So does mahi-mahi but be particularly careful of an unnatural, pungent smell as this may indicate a poorly handled fish.
As mentioned before, mahi-mahi as a strong swimmer (hence the Polynesian translation to its name, Strong-Strong) has a firm texture to it. Avoid buying mushy and slimy mahi-mahi as this generally indicates a significant decline in its freshness.
Select mahi-mahi caught in a way that is least harmful to the environment. In the United States, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch stated that hand operated poles and lines, hand lines and trolling lines in the Atlantic Ocean is the best sustainable way to capture Mahi-Mahi in domestic regions.
How To Properly Store Mahi-Mahi?
Once bought, fresh mahi-mahi is best consumed immediately. There is nothing quite comparable to fresh seafood, really. But in the unfortunate events that something comes in your way or you have bulk-purchased some mahi-mahi fillets for your craving, do not fret. There are ways to maintain the freshness of your mahi-mahi.
If the Mahi-Mahi is to be used within 2 days, there is no need to freeze the fillets yet. You can simply place your mahi-mahi fillets in its original packaging in the coldest section of the refrigerator. Only open the wrapping when you are ready to use the fillet in your recipe.
However, if it is not going to be consumed anytime soon, freezing the fish is a viable option and is necessary. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recommends wrapping the fish prior to freezing to avoid freezer burns, dating the package and keeping it stored in the cold freezer for 2 months. If the fish is going to be freezed for a longer period of time, you may wrap the original packaging with a heavy duty aluminum foil and cling wrap to avoid freezer burn.
To thaw, you can either bring it to room temperature gradually by placing it in the refrigerator and accelerate the process by running a wrapped Mahi-Mahi, such as in a ziplock bag, under cold water. Do not introduce the frozen meat to water directly.
How To Cook Mahi-Mahi?
Owing to its lean, low fat meat, a mahi-mahi fillet has a firm and well-structured body. This makes it very versatile for homecooks to incorporate in their recipes and dishes. For a quick dinner, just pan sear the nice luscious meat on a hot skillet, or just put it on the grill on a nice summer afternoon. So many variations, your choice. Below are some of our favourite ways to treat the beautiful cuts of mahi-mahi fillet:
Simply the simplest and the best method to let the fish itself shine. Use a non-stick pan or a hot cast iron skillet and lay your fillets gently on an adequately heated and oiled surface and let sear. Sear one side of the fish until a nice brown crust is formed and then followed by searing all the other sides of fillet. Finish with a spritz of lemon juice, butter and your favourite herb. Then season to your taste. Perfect. Simple but perfect.
Yes, we said it. The texture of mahi-mahi is strong and firm enough that you can throw it on a grill and it will not crumble under the heat. Prepare your grill for direct grilling, setting the temperature to high. To prep your mahi-mahi steaks or fillets, brush it with a layer of olive oil or butter.
Another option is to marinade the fish with oil, flavours and spices of your choice before laying them on top of a well greased grate. Grill one side at a time, about 2 minutes per side for a 1/2 inch thick fillet. Ensure to rotate your fillets to get a nice sear mark on your fish. Once the colour has turned more opaque and the fillet meat flakes off, get your knife and fork ready.
Baking a mahi-mahi could not have been easier. Preheat the oven at 425°F and in the meantime, pat your fillets dry and place them on a buttered baking dish. Squeeze some lemon juice onto the fish and season with your favourite spices. For some crunch top them off with regular or panko bread crumbs. Cook 20 to 25 minutes until the crust is brown and golden. Check the internal fish temperature ensuring that it reaches 137 °F.
There are many ways to fry mahi-mahi fillets. One of the best ways to fry them is deep fry them after giving them a nice coating of batter or breadcrumbs. You can keep the fillets as they are or cut them into 1/4 inch thick as strips for a family favourite fish sticks meal. To begin with, pat dry your fish fillets and season them with your favorite spice or even with a dash of soy sauce. Then, prepare your wet batter or dry coating accordingly.
For wet based batter such as tempura, just dip your fish fillets and fry as you would with other fish steaks. For dry coating, you can dip the fish fillets or sticks in seasoned flour, egg wash and then finally a bowl of breadcrumbs. Whichever method you use, they both end up in the fryer and later, in your stomach. Yum. Take note to always ensure that the internal temperature reaches 137 °F to 145 °F prior to consumption.
Of all the many ways to cook mahi-mahi, we can truly agree that this fish is truly a cook’s good friend in the kitchen. As long as you have the basics, it is hard to mess up a good fillet of mahi-mahi. Serve your fish immediately with your favourite potato sides and citrusy salad. It is guaranteed to impress your family, friends and guests.
Try Some Mahi-Mahi Today
So dear friends, of all the things we discussed about the fish with brilliantly bright colours, from how it looks to how it tastes we can just simply say that it is worth trying out.
The best way to answer the question on how a mahi-mahi tastes is by trying it out yourself. Next time you are at a seafood restaurant and you see mahi-mahi on the menu, be sure to give it a try. If you are out grocery shopping and see mahi-mahi fillets on the seafood produce shelf, grab some. It is truly a good fish to eat in its many varieties of ways to cook, either for a cosy dinner or a fancy dinner date.
Last but not least, bon appétit!