What Is Mahi Mahi?

This firm, white, mild-tasting fish is versatile and sustainable.

October 15, 2021
Related To:
175508945

175508945

Grilled portion of mahi-mahi with sauteed rainbow chard and new potatoes. Image could work for other kinds of white-fleshed fish.

Photo by: NightAndDayImages/Getty Images

NightAndDayImages/Getty Images

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

Let’s set the record straight right from the start: mahi mahi is often called dolphinfish but it is not dolphin. Mahi mahi is a fish and dolphins are mammals. Mahi mahi is also called dorado, Spanish for gold, an aptly descriptive name based on the beautiful gold and green flash of its scales. No matter what name we’re using, we’ll be dishing up tips and info about mahi mahi to ensure that when you get some you can cook it to perfection.

1176603977

1176603977

Raw fish fillets on a bamboo cutting board seasoned with salt and pepper

Photo by: Candice Bell/Getty Images

Candice Bell/Getty Images

What Is Mahi Mahi?

Mahi mahi are fish that live in warm waters and rarely grow over 30 pounds during their four-to-five-year lifespans. Mahi mahi means "strong" in the Hawaiian language because these fish are very vigorous swimmers. Mahi mahi have pale pink, lean flesh that cooks up flakey and white. It's firm enough to be grilled without falling apart and tender enough to be steamed. Mahi mahi are considered an eco-friendly seafood option because they grow and reproduce quickly and they are typically fished sustainably with hook and line.

What Does Mahi Mahi Taste Like?

Like many other tropical fish, mahi mahi is semi-mild and sweet tasting. It's similar to halibut in terms of flakiness, but also similar to swordfish in its denseness. If you can't find mahi mahi, you can substitute either halibut or swordfish for it.

538367881

538367881

cook cutting a piece of raw fish

Photo by: Juanmonino/Getty Images

Juanmonino/Getty Images

How to Cook Mahi Mahi

Before cooking you may need to prep the fish to ensure the tastiest, most tender results. Here's what to do.

  • Skin the mahi mahi. Unlike trout or salmon, the skin on a mahi mahi fillet is tough and inedible, so be sure your fillet is skinned when you buy it.
  • Remove the bones. If you’re cutting mahi mahi portions, you’ll have to carefully remove bones. Feel along the fillets with your finger; the bones will stick up and you can gently pull them out with tweezers. When baking a whole fillet, it’s easier to remove the bones from the cooked fish.
  • Remove the blood line. You’ll see a red line down the middle of the fillet, called the blood line. While the blood line is perfectly safe to eat, it will have a fishy taste compared to the rest of the fish, so we like to remove it by cutting it out with a sharp, thin knife.

Mahi mahi can be cooked any number of ways, but whichever technique you use, be sure to season right before cooking: you don’t want salt to draw moisture out of the fish.

To grill mahi mahi, lightly brush a very hot grill with oil to prevent the fish from sticking. Cook the fish on 2 to 4 minutes per side, and only flip it once so it doesn't fall apart. You'll know the fish is done when it goes from translucent to an opaque pinkish-white color.

When baking mahi mahi, it's a good idea to lightly oil the fish and use parchment paper in the pan so it doesn't stick. To determine doneness, take the temperature in the middle of the fillet with an instant read thermometer. Take the fish out of the oven when the thermometer reads 135 to 140 degrees F; the pan will stay hot and the fish will continue to cook for a bit.

Mahi Mahi Recipes 

FNK_GrilledMahiMahiWithMojo_H

FNK_GrilledMahiMahiWithMojo_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Mojo, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Grilling mahi mahi is so simple that if we had an indoor grill we’d be having it every day.

MAHI_MAHI_105.tif

MAHI_MAHI_105.tif

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Baking mahi mahi in a foil packet is a convenient technique no matter what you’ll be doing with the fish after it’s cooked. In this case, it makes tender taco filling.

FNM110108WN042.PSD

FNM110108WN042.PSD

Grilling this mahi mahi with curry paste on top gives the curry itself a high heat sear that brings out the flavors of all the spices.

141111_FNM_WND_Mahi_029.tif

141111_FNM_WND_Mahi_029.tif

Photo by: Justin Walker

Justin Walker

Ginger and scallion under the mahi mahi infuse the fish with flavor as it steams. The stacked steamer baskets make cooking fish and vegetables convenient and leave a burner free for cooking the rice.

MAHI_MAHI_ASPARAGUS_028.tif

MAHI_MAHI_ASPARAGUS_028.tif

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Fish is one of the best things to cook in a broiler, and in this recipe, you use it for toasting the almonds and broiling the asparagus too.

Related Links:

Next Up

What Is Lox?

What is lox and what’s the difference between smoked salmon and lox? We have the answers and we keep them secure in our lox box. Read on for the key.

How to Cook Salmon

How to pan-sear, bake and grill salmon.

How to Cook Frozen Salmon Without Thawing It

Here's how to pan-fry, bake and grill salmon from frozen.

How to Cook Farro

Three different ways to cook the ancient grain.

What Is the Best Cut of Steak?

Pro tip: Cuts that run along the back tend to be the most tender and expensive.

French Glossary

Navigate French menus and cookbooks with confidence and ease.

What Is Absinthe?

The people want to know: will you have hallucinations if you drink absinthe?

Will Boxed Pudding Set With Almond Milk?

We put boxed pudding mixes to the dairy-free test.

What is Half and Half? And What’s a Substitute For It?

We all know where to get half and half: next to the cream and milk in the dairy aisle. But do you know what half and half actually is? Why it’s called half and half? Is there a substitute for half and half? It’s confusing! We untangle all the info for you.

Why You Should Save Pasta Water

The secret to the sauce.
More from:

Cooking School

Latest Stories

Related Pages