Way back when, in another life, I was introduced to Mahi-Mahi. It really didn’t seem to matter how it was prepared – each dish was different from any other Mahi-Mahi I had ever tasted. I so loved the Mahi-Mahi in this prior life, that I ate it every day. The fish itself was superior in flavor and texture with meat that was firm and sweet, with just the right amount of flake. It became the Mahi-Mahi by which all others are compared and fail to measure up to expectations. To be honest, it’s not a very fair comparison. My first introduction to Mahi-Mahi was on the island of Bora-Bora, so beautiful they named it twice.
Back in the day when we traveled, Hubby and I discovered something wonderful when visiting other countries. Our “discovery” was quite by accident. During a visit to Jamaica, I was ill upon landing at the airport and needed to be taken to the hospital. The driver of the shuttle bus for the resort we were staying at took the other guests to the resort, then came to the hospital in his own car to help Hubby navigate through all the red tape involved at a third-world hospital. He stayed with us until my release, then offered to drive us to the resort on the opposite side of the island. (We thought initially that I had suffered a heart attack. I had sever chest pains and a shooting pain down my left arm. It turned out to be pneumonia – a diagnostic I did not receive until returning to America – but that’s another story). Along the way from the hospital to the resort, Gerrod stopped at a cafe so we could get something to eat. The cafe was on the second floor of an old, run-down building – not a place tourists would have ventured into – strictly a “locals” joint. The food, be it peasant and humble in nature, was delicious. From a less than desirable circumstance, we discovered the best way to “see” another country was through local people, not tour guides.
While in Bora-Bora, we met a man who ran an island tour company. He took tourists to see the stingrays and the black-tip reef sharks. Terry was a happy, carefree fellow. It was easy to strike up a friendship with such an open person. He loved what he did, and we loved tagging along. Eventually we met Terry’s wife, his children and his extended family. He took us to his favorite dive spots, introduced us to some of his ocean-going “friends’ and even welcomed us into his home. It was at his home that his grandmother cooked up what can only be described as the best pan seared Mahi-Mahi on the planet. I wish I could say that I obtained this recipe from her, but alas, I didn’t. My French is very limited, and Polynesia non-existent. I’m sure she could tell by the looks our faces that we loved her simple supper of fish, pineapple and rice.
Fast forward several years, we had dinner at BJ’s Restaurant near our home. On the menu was Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi over a bed of pineapple fried rice. I asked the waiter how fresh the Mahi-Mahi was and all sorts of questions as to how it was prepared. I then told him that I had eaten a dish very much like the one he described on Bora Bora, and was anxious to see how the two would compare.
Amazingly, BJ’s Mahi Mahi was the closest thing I’ve tasted to the wonderful supper from another lifetime. I will confess, I asked for a doggie bag not because I couldn’t finish what was on my plate but because I was anxious to dissect the food for content and to see if I could recreate it at home. It took several tries, but eventually I accomplished this feat. Mind you, it’s still not exactly the same dish – the fish wasn’t caught that morning in waters too blue to be believed and the pineapple didn’t grow in the backyard, allowed to ripen as nature had intended to reach an incredible level of luscious perfection. Still, it’s pretty darn good.
Pan-Roasted Pineapple Glazed Mahi-Mahi
2 Cups Pineapple Juice
2 ½ Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Teaspoons Dark Sesame Oil
1 Teaspoon Ginger, peeled and freshly grated
½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
4 Mahi-Mahi Fillets, (6 oz)
1 Teaspoon Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Sliced Green Onions
Combine pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger and crushed red pepper in a bowl. Measure out ½ cup of pineapple mixture, reserve rest.
Place Mahi-Mahi fillets in a heavy, resealable plastic bag. Pour ½ cup of pineapple mixture over fish. Seal bag and refrigerate at least 2 hours, turning bag occasionally to evenly distribute marinade.
Lightly spray grill pan with cooking spray. Brush pan with vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat until hot. Remove fish from bag; discard any remaining marinade in bag. Place fish, skin side up, on grill pan. Grill 5-6 minutes or until nicely browned.
CAREFULLY turn fish, reduce heat to medium and continue to grill 10-12 minutes longer, until fork-flaky.
While fish is grilling, bring reserved pineapple mixture to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Maintain a gently rolling boil for 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced to ¼ cup.
Plate fish, drizzle with pineapple mixture. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.
Pineapple Fried Rice
2 ½ Cups White Rice
Juice from 1 can (15 oz) Pineapple plus enough water to measure 3 1/3 cup liquid
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Sesame Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, finely grated
5 Scallions, chopped, white and pale green separated from green
1 Can (15 oz) Pineapple chunks, juice reserved – see above
2 Tablespoons Fresh Grated Ginger
¼ Cup Teriyaki Sauce
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
½ Green Bell Pepper, cut into long thin strips
½ Red Bell Pepper, cut into long, thin strips
Rinse rice until water runs clear. Place in a large saucepan with pineapple juice and enough water to measure 3 1/3 cups liquid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a steady simmer. Cover and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 12-15 minutes.
Spread cooked rice in a casserole dish and allow to cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, combine Teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
In a wok or large skilled, heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Stir-fry garlic and white/pale green parts of scallion until tender-crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Add rice, pour soy ginger sauce over rice and bring to a low boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and cook until warmed through and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add pineapples and cooking until heated through, about 2-4 minutes.
Transfer to serving platter. Garnish with strips of bell pepper.