Fish is always my go-to selection for a quick and healthy dinner. This weekend my fish market had quite a few excellent varieties and some beautiful mahi mahi fillets caught my eye.
Also known as dolphin fish, the Hawaiian name, mahi mahi, was used first by restaurants to distinguish it from the mammal. Despite the Hawaiian name, mahi mahi is mostly fished on the Atlantic coast. Wild caught in the United States from Massachusetts to Texas, it is considered a “best choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Mahi mahi are fished by longline methods or troll and pole. These methods limit the accidental catch of sea turtles and other threatened species.
Mahi mahi is a lean fish with a delicate, mildly pronounced flavor and medium texture. The flesh usually has strips of brown running down the center of the fillet. This is a harmless discoloration, some (not us) think this makes the fish less attractive so they trim it off. Be sure to remove the skin before cooking, it is tough and tasteless. Halibut would be a good substitution if mahi mahi is not available.
We cook our fish very simply and compliment it with a bright sauce. I wanted to take advantage of seasonal fall ingredients and I noticed a display of pomegranates at the front of the supermarket. Whether it was inspiration or the power of suggestion, I’m not certain, I planned to make a pomegranate salsa. I combined jewel toned pomegranate arils with juicy pineapple, crispy cucumber and red onion. A little jalapeno from the garden provided enough heat to contrast with the sweet and I finished the salsa with a little cilantro. Served with rice and avocado slices and a salad, this made a quick and delicious dinner. This salsa would be good with tortilla or pita chips or even as a bruschetta with a creamy goat cheese.
Mahi Mahi with Pomegranate Salsa
- 4 mahi mahi fillets, 6 oz each
- Cooked jasmine or other long grain rice
- Sliced avocado
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Measure the fillets at their thickest point. Season fish with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake fish for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. If you check internal temperatures, it should be about 130°F. Remember fish will continue to cook even off the heat.
- Mound the rice on plates and top with fish and salsa. Arrange avocado slices on the side. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
Makes about 4 cups
- 1c pomegranate arils
- 3/4c peeled and diced cucumber
- 3/4c diced pineapple
- 1/4c diced red onion
- 1-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
- 1/3c diced sweet red pepper
- 2T fresh lime juice
- 1/3c finely chopped cilantro
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Taste for heat preference and additional jalapeno if desired.
A warm early fall, plant cages and a drip irrigation system all contributed to a bumper crop of sweet and hot peppers this season. One of the most interesting varieties we grew was the Nu Mex Suave Orange. In appearance, this pepper closely resembles a habenaro. If you are not familiar with habenaros, they are one of the hottest varieties grown. Pepper heat is rated on the Scoville scale. For example, jalapenos are around 25,000 units, hot enough to satisfy most palates. The red Savina habenaro is 577,000 Scoville units, a bit too hot for all but the most dedicated pepperheads to enjoy.
So why was there a need to breed a mild habenaro? In addition to their heat, habenaros have a unique flavor that most people couldn’t taste because they couldn’t get past the scorching heat.
This is where the developers of new pepper breeds came in. With seed donated from a chile aficionado from Texas, and many seeding trials, the varieties, Nu Mex Suave Red and Orange pepper were originated. Nu Mex is the name for products created at the agricultural experimentation station at New Mexico State University at Las Cruces and suave, meaning mellow or smooth, emphasizes the mild nature of the chile. Nu Mex Suaves look like a cross between a habenaro and a Scotch bonnet, another hot chili, used in Jamaican jerk sauces and salsa.
The fruits are about 2 inches in size, plump, wrinkled and bright orange yellow in color. Suaves have a citrusy flavor with an orange lemony overtone. The heat is felt in the back of the mouth and throat as opposed to a jalapeno where you will experience the heat on your tongue and lips.
Their wrinkled appearance and thin waxy skin make them a poor candidate for roasting. I used them in salads and had my own experiment with some mini stuffed peppers. I also froze several bags and look forward to the mild heat and citrusy flavor they will add to soups, stews and other dishes.
A flavorful salad that’s a healthier alternative to mayonnaise based slaws. Crispy cabbage, celery and radishes are combined with sweet Sungold tomatoes in this very easy to make dish. Why is it considered Puerto Rican? Couldn’t find a definitive answer for that, but the addition of some sliced hearts of palm would give it a real Caribbean flair. Serve with a grilled steak or roast chicken, the leftovers keep for several days, that is, if you can keep it that long.
Puerto Rican Coleslaw
Makes about six servings
- 6-8 c finely chopped green cabbage
- 1 c diced small tomatoes
- ½ c chopped celery, if the stalks are large, cut in half lengthwise first
- 1/2c chopped celery leaves
- 6-7 radishes, cut root and stem off first, then cut into half moon slices
- ¼ c sliced green onion
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
- 1 t fresh lime juice
- ½ t kosher salt, or more to taste
- ¼ to 1/2t hot pepper sauce, I used sriracha sauce
- 3T grapeseed or canola oil
- Chop up the cabbage, tomatoes and celery leaves, and slice celery, radishes and green onions, and toss into a large bowl. You can make this part ahead, place it in a container with a lid and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to make the salad.
- In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, lime juice, salt, hot sauce and oil. Taste to see if you want to add more hot sauce.
- Toss salad with the dressing. You can make this salad ahead and store it in the fridge for a few hours before you’re ready to serve.