This recipe may be the simplest offered here yet. It is ideal for July, relaxing after a fun day of fishing. It’s even better when you use a fresh Mahi-Mahi fillet that was swimming a few hours earlier. Nothing is difficult about this recipe except maybe going into your favorite grocery store to pick up a bag or two of Asian salad mix. Once home, enjoying your favorite cold beverage makes it easy to spend a few minutes around a grill cooking the fish and in the kitchen mixing the salad.
I grew up calling them dolphin, but Mahi-Mahi are a favorite fish by either name.
Mahi-Mahi are the fastest-growing pelagic fish in the ocean. Their appetites are always at full bore, and they attack baitfish with abandon. In captivity, one bull Mahi-Mahi grew to 39 pounds in its first year. Mahi in the wild don’t have the same unlimited food supply, but they grow quickly and may spawn in their first year.
Their prolific spawning provides schools of 18- to 36-inch fish that gather around weed lines and under almost any flotsam; these are the more-prominent fish in July. They’re hanging with their siblings, eating with abandon and following schools of baitfish close to shore, and these traits make them favorites to invite home for a nice, evening meal.
No Mahi has a strong flavor, but these bailers from the summer are the mildest and are just right for this recipe. They taste great, the salad tastes good and both are good for you. When you combine the two, it makes a light, tasty, cool salad — an ideal meal to close out a summer day.
The next time you’re out fishing and a Mahi-Mahi wants to see the inside of your fish box, slide it in and give this a try. There isn’t much preparation time, and you should enjoy the meal as much as you enjoyed catching the main ingredient. If you give it a try, you’ll fix it again. Simple, quick and tasty make this just right for a relaxing summer meal on the deck or patio.
Asian mahi salad
The only way I know to have a simpler fish meal than this one is to break out the soy sauce and wasabi and have sashimi on the leaning post while still fishing. That’s not bad, and I have enjoyed it numerous times, but this Asian Mahi Salad is pretty darn tasty, too. It’s also almost as easy to prepare. There are only a few steps and the time required to cook the Mahi-Mahi and then cool it. Bury the freshly caught fish totally in ice so it chills quickly and doesn’t lose quality in the hot sun.
I make this very simple by buying a bag of Asian salad mix rather than chopping the green cabbage, red cabbage, green leaf lettuce, carrots, green onions and sliced almonds it contains. The package also includes a small package of Asian sesame vinaigrette dressing and wonton strips. I mix this at approximately one-half pound of Mahi fillet to each bag of the salad mix. This combination and some crackers or extra wontons will feed two people for a meal and more as a side. Buy a second bag of salad mix and add another one-half pound of Mahi to double it.
I made it this time to eat with crackers, so I didn’t include the wontons. If you are serving this as a side and not including crackers, mix in the wonton strips. The crunch and taste of the wontons or crackers is a significant part. Use your favorite crackers. For this meal, I used triangle-shaped Town House Pita Chips in several flavors. For a slightly different taste and texture, try Triscuit Thin Crisps in your favorite flavor.
Tweaking the recipe
I have had to get used to calling this salad. For years, I used it in fish tacos with a drizzle of chipotle salad dressing and called it Asian slaw, probably because of the two types of cabbage. Whatever you call it, the mix is just about perfect for this. I don’t use all of the packet of dressing to keep it from overpowering the Mahi-Mahi, but some of my friends add a little more after being served. As you regular readers know, I don’t mind you tweaking the recipe to better suit your personal tastes.
The tender meat of smaller, bailer Mahi is the best. However, no Mahi is bad, and you can soak a fillet from a larger Mahi in some orange juice or 7-Up to help tenderize it without adding another flavor.
Don’t get heavy handed with the seasoning, either. If you overdose it with seasoning, it can overpower the salad. I chose Mahi for this because of its mild flavor and firm fillets, but other fish will probably work well. The fillets should be skinned and cleaned, with no red or dark meat.
I rarely use salt, and when I do, it’s not much. I am a little more liberal with salt on this. Something seems to hide the salt, so I use a little more — not much, but a little. I would suggest trying this with the salt you would usually use and seeing for yourself. You can always add a little after tasting. I like pepper, specifically coarse-ground pepper. The lime-infused olive oil gives just a slight hint of lime flavor and works surprisingly well with the vinaigrette salad dressing.
The last tip is to put the fish on ice or in the fridge to cool it as soon as you remove it from the grill. The quick transition from hot to cold locks in the juices and flavor. Be sure not to overcook the fish. It is ready as soon as it will flake easily. Enjoy!
- 1/2 pound fresh, skinless Mahi-Mahi fillet
- 1 package Asian salad mix (includes vegetables, sliced almonds, salad dressing and wonton strips)
- 2 tbsp lime infused olive oil
- Himalayan pink salt and pepper
- Chips and/or crackers
The Mahi-Mahi fillets must be skinned and all red or dark meat should be removed. Drizzle one side of the fillets with one spoonful of the olive oil. Rub this in and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Use a fish basket or vegetable tray and place the fillet on the grill with the seasoned side down. Drizzle the top of the fillets with the other spoon of olive oil. Rub this in and season to taste with salt and pepper. Close the grill and cook for 4 to 6 minutes; temperatures on grills vary. Turn the fillets and cook an additional 4 to 6 minutes until the fillet flakes easily. Be careful not to overcook. Remove the fillet(s) and immediately place on ice or in refrigerator to chill.
While the cooked fillets are cooling, mix the salad packet in a large bowl. Hold out the wonton strips if serving with crackers. Use a sharp knife to cut the Mahi into approximately thumbnail-sized pieces. Mix the Mahi pieces into the salad, stirring lightly to help prevent breaking up the pieces of fish. Serve immediately or return to refrigerator or cooler to keep chilled. Serve with the crackers of your choice. I used triangle-shaped Town House Pita Chips.
This salad is versatile and can be used as the main course of a meal, a side salad or as a sort of grazing dish as shown in the pictures. Crackers go with this well when used as a grazing dish or the main course. Use the wonton strips if serving as a side salad. The texture of the wontons or crackers adds to the taste almost as much as their flavoring.
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