Thursday, April 22, 2010

Caribbean Coconut Rum Braised Mahi Mahi

I have a pet peeve about fish.  My wife is afraid of the taste of raw fish.  Afraid isn't the right word, more accurate, she can not stand the hint of an underdone fish course.

Me, on the other hand, I am afraid of rubbery over cooked fish.  All the flavor, all the texture is ruined when the fish is cooked beyond it's time.  

But there is that sweet spot, when the fish is fully cooked, but still retains that flaky texture.  The fish is firm, but not rubber firm.  All of the flavor is retained, as well as whatever flavors are added by the recipe.  It is very difficult to reach this sweet spot that makes us both happy.

This post is more of a technique post as opposed to a recipe.  This technique is a great way to extend that sweet spot.  There is a bigger gap between overcooked and undercooked when you do this...

slice an onion 1/4 inch thick...

lay those slices in a heavy bottomed frying pan...

layer 1/4 inch plus just a tad more (1/8th inch if you must have a measurement... just a tad) of Coconut Rum in the pan.  I used rum, the alcohol will cook out, but the earthiness of the rum, combined with the sweetness of the coconut adds a rich taste to the fish.  Feel free to substitute beer, chicken or fish stock or whatever exotic liquid you feel like (recently read of a Mountain dew recipe, and root beer is a terrific liquid to cook with).

Get the liquid to simmer, and lay the fish on the top of the onion slices.  Cook for 4 minutes, carefully flip the fish only over and set back on top of the onion slices and cook the other side for 4 more minutes.  the combination of steaming and braising (cooking on a thin layer of liquid) will cook the fish completely (making my wife happy), and at the same time, cooks slowly and gently enough to leave the fish flaky, meaty and tender.

I added a sprinkling of "not your Grandmother's HERBES de PROVENCE".  That is my go to mixture of different herbs that I make a batch of every few months.  Very handy.  But, feel free to substitute some dill, or garlic, or rosemary...  Whatever spice you like can be used to highlight this gently flavored fish.

If you do this right, the onions are a tasty accent to the meal, adding to the presentation.  If you have the heat too high, the onions will burn and should be discarded.  Nicely toasted looking is ideal.

Aldi, Costco, Sam's Club, etc sell those bags of frozen fish at a very reasonable price.  This technique along with the convenience of having frozen fish around the house makes this a wonderful, fast... and impressive recipe


  1. Bev and I are in the exact same situation regarding fish, so I'm always trying to hit the same sweet spot.

  2. I loooooooooove mahi! This sounds like a fantastic recipe - I'll pass it on to my husband, maybe this will be dinner one night this weekend!

  3. Perfect!!! I am exactly like your wife, I hate if my fish is undercooked. It's creepy.

  4. Funny how one fish can have so many names..A good eating fish, no matter what you call it..

  5. Perfect timing! I just bought 2 bags of frozen fish at Aldi's and I will definitely give your method of cooking fish a try. It sounds sooo good! Thanks!

  6. I've braised a lot of stuff, but never fish. I'll have to try this out. I love the onions, they got great color.

  7. mmm, i love my fish the same way. this looks like such a clean and healthy dish!

  8. Now that's a great tip that I've never seen. Maybe because I don't cook a lot of fish but mahi is one of the ones I will eat.

  9. It's definitely hard to get fish just right. I'm usually okay with it being a little undercooked...but my parents are decidedly NOT. Whitefish is great for a dish like this, where it soaks up all of that coconut flavor!

  10. This fish looks fab and I love the addition of the onion and coconut rum. I will put this one on my "must try" list! I like my fish well done, too.

  11. It seems I can never get the fish "just right". It's either creepy not quite done, or dried out. Love this tip and will be giving it a try. I may even go buy some coconut rum!