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The Kitchn: The best, simplest method to cook mahi mahi

By Christine Gallary on

Mahi mahi is a firm, lean white fish that hails from warm waters of places like Hawaii or the Gulf of Mexico. It's a great, less expensive alternative to halibut, and can be grilled, broiled, or even fried. But one of our favorite ways to prepare it is to simply pan-sear it, which lets the flavors and flaky texture shine. Searing it in a pan also lets you make a buttery, lemony sauce to drizzle all over the fish.

All you need to complete this easy fish dinner is a green salad or vegetable, and maybe some bread or rice to sop up all that tasty sauce. Here's the easiest way to cook mahi mahi.

Buying Mahi Mahi

Mahi mahi, also known as dolphinfish, is usually sold as skinless fillets and is generally considered a sustainable seafood from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch list. If you can't find it fresh, check the frozen seafood section, which may sell them as individually frozen fillets (Costco sells a 3-pound pack of frozen fillets). If you can't find mahi mahi, look for a meaty white fish like swordfish, halibut, or snapper as an alternative.

How to Cook Mahi Mahi


To cook mahi mahi on the stovetop, start with a nonstick or cast iron pan so that there's less of a chance for the fish to stick. Here are some tips once you're ready to get going.

Use a hot pan and dry fish. To get that nice brown crust on the mahi mahi, make sure the pan is just starting to smoke and the fish has been patted dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture before you add it to the pan.

Sear more on the first side. Borrowing from a technique we use with pan-seared salmon, let the first side cook longer to develop the crust, then flip the fish over and cook the second side for just a few minutes more.

Use lemon slices and lemon juice. After the fish is cooked, add some lemon juice, garlic, and salt and scrape up those tasty browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then add some lemon slices both for flavor and a pretty presentation at the end.


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