How to Choose, Store, and Prepare Mah-mahi

Everything You Need to Know about This Delicious and Versatile Fish

Local mahi-mahi fish dish
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If you're looking for a lean, healthy fish that's not too fishy mahi-mahi may be a great choice. At just 145 calories per six-ounce serving, mahi-mahi contains 31 grams of protein and one gram of fat. And because they are a fast-growing fish with a relatively short life cycle  of about four to five years, mahi-mahi tend to be lower in mercury and other potentially harmful substances than some slow-growing fish that have longer environmental exposure.

Even though the brightly-colored mahi-mahi is occasionally seen labeled "dolphin," it’s very much a fish, and is completely unrelated to dolphins and porpoises, which are not fish at all but air-breathing marine mammals. But whether it’s called dolphin or mahi-mahi (or Dolphinfish or Dorado) you’ll call it delicious! Mahi-mahi is a versatile fish that produces excellent results using just about any cooking method. The mild, sweet flesh—which starts off pinkish but turns white as it cooks—is very lean but also quite moist and flavorful.

Ready to give mahi-mahi a try? Follow these tips for purchasing, storing, and preparing mahi-mahi.

Mahi Mahi Purchasing Tips

When buying mahi-mahi at the grocery store, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Mahi-mahi should never feel mushy or smell fishy. Look for moist, resilient fillets or steaks that have a fresh, almost neutral scent.
  • Mahi-mahi, whether fresh or frozen, is pink with red stripes or spots and occasional light brown or bluish tinges.
  • Avoid fish with a dull color or dark brown areas, especially along the edges, as these may indicate age and the beginnings of spoilage. Dark red blood lines or spots are OK but should be trimmed before cooking for a milder flavor.
  • Skin should be moist-looking and shiny, not dry and lifeless. Skin color can range from silver to dark gray, with small black spots and yellow or golden streaks.
  • Troll-caught and rod-and-reel caught mahi-mahi, especially those from Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific coast, are considered the most sustainable choice. Long-line caught mahi-mahi are a less desirable choice (due to by-catch issues) and should be avoided.

Mahi-mahi Handling and Storage

Once you get home with your perfect cut of mahi-mahi, there are some steps you can take to make sure it doesn't spoil and to prepare the fish for cooking:

  • Most mahi-mahi will be free of bones, but any you do find are likely to be large and long. They can be cut out, but it’s much easier (and less damaging to fillets) to just remove them after cooking.
  • Fresh mahi-mahi can be stored tightly wrapped in the coldest part of the refrigerator for three to four days.
  • Mahi-mahi freezes well and will keep for several months if properly wrapped and bagged.

How to Cook Mahi Mahi

Mahi-m ahi is a lean fish, so take care not to overcook it or it will dry out. Depending on thickness, it will only need three to four minutes per side to cook through.

Leave the skin on if you’re planning to grill mahi-mahi fillets, as they will hold together better during grilling. Cook them skin side down on a moderately hot grill and turn them carefully. For skinless fillets, use a flat grilling basket.

One great way to prepare mahi-mahi is to brush it with homemade chimichurri sauce and broil it, but you can also grill it, pan-fry it, skewer it, steam it, and more. Cut into strips and battered, it even makes a tasty tempura. Try it in any recipe that calls for tilapia or catfish and you’re in for a real treat.