Monday, June 25, 2012

Grilled Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Pineapple Salsa - A Food Photography Challenge

Fish... growing up, beautiful gold fish swam in my mom's big fish tank, and the Koi in the pond were a treat to feed as they kissed the water's surface to eat their evening meal.  Unfortunately those Koi became a raccoon's feast one night, and then we just had a pond.  Fish, however, was not something that was ever feasted on inside our house.

Dad has always loved fish, but had to get it in restaurants as Mom didn't care for it and therefore, didn't make it.  The one time Dad did make it, a yucky trout that he had caught himself, I remember all of us running to open the windows in the house from the "awful" smell the poor little guy gave off as he spent some time roasting in our oven.

Hence, I'm somewhat of a newcomer to the fish scene.  Just into my 40's, I bravely tasted a very, very small bite of a girlfriend's salmon, and amazingly, I didn't hate it.  Months later, I even more bravely ordered my own Mahi Mahi while dining beachside in Maui, and not only did I not hate it, I really liked it.

The years following have brought Mahi Mahi and Salmon to my own table, but mostly cooked on the grill as the oven seems to bring that cooking smell that permeates every corner of the house and has me still running to open windows no matter what the season.  The kids love their Mahi and salmon, and we eat fillets sometimes several times a week.  Yes... fillets are lovely.

So when my food photography and styling group, The Inspired Plate, brought this month's challenge as "Fish, raw and prepared, a side by side collage", I thought, "No problem!  I'm all over this one.".  Then I read the comments from the other girls chatting about heading to fish markets to by whole fish, or better yet, heading to actual rivers to obtain their raw versions, and I began to cringe.

You see, in my world, fish comes from the store, like Trader Joe's or Costco.  It comes skinned, boned and filleted in little freezer packages that are ready to be marinated and popped onto the grill.  Well... the pre-marinated salmon from Costco does come with skin, but I put that on the grill and the skin just comes off before I serve it, so it's really not an issue.

The thought of buying a whole fish, eyes, scales and all, is something I just couldn't do.  As such, I give you my own version of raw.

As luck would have it, beautiful fillets of sweet Mahi Mahi, all packaged and flash frozen off the coast of Hawaii from Costco's freezer section, just happened to be what was "biting" off our Carlsbad coastline today.  This young man happily shared his catch with me, and I set to making our tacos.

Pulling a pre-packaged packet from the freezer, errr.... I mean bringing it home from the beach, the tender fillet thaws in a flash (just like it was frozen) and is ready for the marinade, and in turn, the grill in no time.  Combined with a few condiments and a tortilla, we have a Southern California staple, The Grilled Fish Taco.  A meal that makes my whole family smile (yes... even the pups like this one).

With flavors of lime, cilantro and chilis, these tacos can bring a kick if you like (and my husband does), or leaving out the chilis you can have a mellow, but flavorful taco that is tastier and healthier than those in many restaurants.

Pre-packaged and flash frozen off the coast of Hawaii, "caught" near Costco at the beach in Carlsbad, CA... no muss, no fuss, and you too can enjoy this San Diego favorite with a tropical flair.  Aloha!

PS... I've heard this type of fish is biting near markets nation wide.  You'll have to figure out your own bait though...

Fish... raw and prepared.  A side by side collage.
Please join me in a trip around our blog circle for the rest of The Inspired Plate's challenge posts including real raw fish and stunning food photography...  First stop, Tammy Bilodeau, a Whitecourt AB Photographer!

Mahi Mahi Grilled Fish Tacos
Sweet Mahi Mahi grills up into a tender fillet.  Adorned with citrusy condiments and topped with a sweet/spicy mango pineapple salsa, these tacos will challenge any restaurant version out there.

Mahi Mahi
4 Mahi Mahi Fillets
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbs chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground corriander
slice of serrano chili pepper (optional)
2 Tbs chopped cilantro

flour tortillas
cabbage, sliced
avocado, sliced

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
1 scallion, chopped
3 Tbs chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste

Mango Pineapple Salsa
This is one of those recipes where we take a little of this and a little of that based on what we have on hand.  Add more pineapple if that is your preference, add less chili if you don't like heat.  Make it yours!
1 mango
slice of pineapple
lime juice
red onion
serrano or jalapeño chili
salt to taste

Pull Mahi Mahi fillets from the freezer and thaw.  While thawing, whisk together the oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, ground corriander, serrano chili (optional for heat and additional flavor), and cilantro.  Coat the fillets with the marinade and marinate for about an hour while you heat the grill and prepare the Crema and salsa.

For the crema, simply mix together the crema ingredients and return to the refrigerator to chill until needed.

For the Mango Pineapple Salsa, cut the mango into very small dice and place into a small bowl.  Cut the pineapple into small dice as well and add to the bowl.  Add 2 Tbs of lime juice, some chopped red onion, cilantro and some diced chili.  Stir and salt lightly.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

With the grill heated to a medium heat, place fish fillets onto the grill.  Grill for 3-4 minutes and flip fish.  Grill just until cooked through (cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your fish).  Remove from grill and prepare tacos.

Drizzle some of the Crema onto a flour tortilla.  Layer with shredded cabblage, fish, and avocado.  Top with the mango pineapple salsa and more of the crema.  Serve.

Mahi Mahi off the San Diego, CA coastline


  1. Kim, You definitely 'caught' my attention. Love how you approached the raw part of this challenge. Your tacos look beautiful and delicious and even I would like to take a bite. Great job.

  2. haha! If only fish really came that way. Completely yummy fish tacos!

  3. LOL, love the before photos!!! You did a great job with this assignment!

  4. Great post! You are too funny. Your fish tacos look wonderful. I have pinned this recipe!

  5. Wow I love your post, so much detail, full of life and gorgeous dish. I have to try this disk.

  6. Great post. Love the detail and the gorgeous photos.

  7. Ha too funny. You are very creative and I love the pic of your son? "Catching" the pre-packaged fish off shore. Your tacos look delish, and i love the watermelon in behind. It gives your picture a summer feel, like I could reach right in a grab it. Nice work.

  8. LOVE your twist on "catching" the fish!! Gorgeous photos, love the background fish story, everything makes for a such a wonderful post.

  9. Hehe that is the way I like to catch fish!

    These look phenomenal!

  10. Your post and photography are absolutely GORGEOUS! I love the photos - so amazing. Great job (and that is an understatement)!

    I love fish tacos so I plan to make these beauties for me and my husband soon. Thank you!!

  11. Kim,
    What a "wonderful" way to catch fish. Your fish tacos are gorgeous, and I love the fruit salsa.

    Your memories of the fish smells permeating your house reminded me of when my Dad, who loved fish, would bring fish home to cook. My Mom didn't like any part of fish or the smell, just like your Mom.

  12. Fish and mangoes is such a summery beautiful combo my friend :D
    Thanks for sharing!


  13. ohhh so fresh :) looks very yummy

  14. This looks wonderful, Kim and I love your presentation! Quite enticing and lovely!

  15. These look fantastic! I want some right now!

  16. These look delicious and I love the mango pineapple salsa! Gorgeous photos too!

  17. I have to admit it took me MANY years to like fish too, but now I am a whole hearted fish lover! I'll eat it fresh, raw, smoked, baked or grilled, but I STILL won't cook a whole fish, or anything with a face really!

  18. I love those shots of the fish on the beach being "caught" from the sea!! Haha what a whimsical idea for your "raw" shots :D Your fish tacos look so bright and delicious, will definitely be bookmarking this to try sometime ;)

  19. how many does this feed? looks amazing!

  20. kaitlin... This worked for 3-4 adults for us! It fed my family of 4 for dinner along with rice and a salad.

  21. What kind of rice did you make with it? Looks yummy!


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