Brown notes, “Back in the days of sail, mariners were superstitious about eating dolphin.” It appears they thought it might even be poisonous to humans back then. He also says dolphin were seldom used for food when caught off the Dare Coast, or Outer Banks, in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. But he notes at the time of this writing in 1967 that most anglers took their dolphin home.
“The going price is 1.00 per pound.” Brown says. “That is what Capt. Buddy Canady and his mate Johnny Booth were offering and getting for the fish there were dressing on the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center docks one day.”
Mahi-mahi, as it is generally referred to these days, has certainly come a long way since the 1930’s, and even 1967. It is a common fish in seafood restaurants and available at most grocery stories. Time and popularity has caused the price to increase well-above Mr. Brown’s one dollar per pound rate. What I purchased to make this step-by-step photo illustrated recipe was selling fresh for $11.99 per pound.
I didn’t change a thing in the recipe that was printed back then and you’ll find that below. However, I did adjust the portions to prepare just what you see here. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing and eating this dish. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
What you need.
2 pounds of mahi-mahi fillets (dolphinfish)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Dash of black pepper
Macadamia Nut Sauce:
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
A step-by-step guide.
All the ingredients you’ll need to make this mahi-mahi recipe.
Start with preparing the macadamia nut sauce. Chop parsley to measure out one tablespoon.
Use your favorite cast iron skillet to melt the butter. Place it in the skillet over medium-low heat. Anything higher might burn the butter.
Add the chopped nuts and stir it well, allowing the nuts to brown slightly in the butter.
Add the parsley.
Continue to stir the mixture and let it brown for about one minute more. Be careful to not let the butter burn.
Place the macadamia nut sauce in a small bowl, set it aside, and keep it warm.
Now is time to start skinning the fillets. You need a good sharp fillet knife for this. Follow the next few steps to learn how to properly fillet the fish.
Use your knife to cut a portion of the meat away from the skin. It should be enough to get a good grasp on the skin itself.
A paper towel will help you hold the skin as you slide the fillet knife under the meat. Fillet knives are very flexible. Press down on the handle and get a bit of a curve in the blade to help you slide the knife under the meat and along the skin to cut the skin away.
Slide the knife all the way along the length of the fish and cut away the skin. If you’re skiddish of this process, ask your local fish monger to do this for you.
Cut the fish into good serving size portions.
Sprinkle on a little salt.
Sprinkle with a bit of black pepper.
Melt 1/4 cup of butter. Then add in the lemon juice.
Give the butter and lemon juice a quick stir.
Generously grease the bottom of a foil-lined pan and place the fillets on top. The original story called for using a broiler pan. I didn’t have one, so I’m using a pan lined with aluminum foil.
Brush the top with the butter and lemon juice mixture.
Once both sides are brushed with the butter and lemon juice mixture, we’re ready for the broiler. I suggest you place the fish portions meat side down first to broil them. Your oven rack should be at it’s highest position so the fillets are about 3 inches from the source of heat. The fillets need to broil for about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side.
After you broil the first side, carefully turn the fish over.
Brush the other side and place back under the broiler for about 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Place the fish on a warm serving platter. Pour on some of the macadamia nut sauce and serve warm.
Steve Gordon is a writer, recipe tester, and lover of all things Southern. You can read more of his writing and step-by-step recipes at tasteofsouthern.com.