A taste of Morocco: Grilled mahi-mahi

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During the three-month pandemic quarantine, I tried to create theme dinners for my family so we could “travel” virtually and enjoy food from around the world.

Sometimes, this involved days of planning, but often I would not know what I was making until the fishmonger at Penn Avenue Fish Co. gave me his recommendations. One day he suggested mahi-mahi, which I like for its clean, nonfishy flavor and flaky texture.

This delicious Moroccan mahi-mahi recipe has been a hit with my family. I have never visited Morocco, but it is on my travel bucket list. The more popular Moroccan spices include: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seeds, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek and turmeric.

As a home chef, I admit I am unfamiliar with some of these spices, so to create my recipes, I browse a variety of recipes online, then cut-and-paste — taking into consideration healthy fat and preferred flavors, and experimenting with what I think will taste good.

The name “mahi-mahi” comes from the Hawaiian language and means “very strong.” Though the species is also referred to as the common dolphinfish, the use of “dolphin” can be misleading because these fish are not related to dolphins.

Mahi-mahis have pale pink, lean flesh that is firm enough to be grilled without falling apart and tender enough to be steamed. Like many other tropical fish, mahi-mahi is semi-mild and sweet tasting. It’s similar to halibut in terms of flakiness — a home chef’s dream because of its versatility

Here is my version of Moroccan grilled mahi-mahi. Enjoy!

Moroccan grilled mahi-mahi
Serves 3

(Note: The marinating time is a minimum of 3 hours.)
1 1/2 pounds raw mahi-mahi
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika (can substitute regular paprika if you prefer your food less spicy)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley or cilantro)

Place the fish in a shallow baking pan.

In the food processor, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, minced garlic, hot paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and parsley or cilantro. It will be paste-like.

Set aside 1/4 of the marinade for serving.

Spread 3/4 of the marinade over both sides of the fish, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Spray the grill with cooking oil prior to heating to keep the fish from sticking, and heat it to medium.

Grill the fish until the flesh flakes easily, about 6 to 8 minutes on each side for a two-inch thick fish.

Spoon the reserved marinade over the cooked fish and serve immediately. PJC

Carole Mantel is an independent health coach and home chef.

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