Spend any time in the Yucatan or on Baja California and you will soon learn that the Mexicans know how to cook seafood; it ain’t all enchiladas and ground beef. And dorado (also known as mahi mahi or dolphinfish) is a highly sought-after fish in the Sea of Cortez.
I first saw a version of this dish in Diana Kennedy’s The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, but I have refined the technique here to modernize the dish. The recipe requires a lot of cilantro — two standard bunches from the supermarket. But if you hate cilantro, use parsley.
And while mahi mahi is not hard to find in the market, you can substitute yellowtail, striped bass, white seabass, a big snapper (what Kennedy uses in the original version), grouper, largemouth bass, or even catfish. You want a pretty firm fish here, and not an especially fatty one.
Serves 4 to 6.
- 2 to 3 pounds mahi mahi, yellowtail, striped bass or snapper
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 or 3 fire-roasted jalapenos, preserved in vinegar (or pickled jalapenos)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cilantro
- 1/3 cup lime juice or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white vine vinegar
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the fish into serving portions and salt it well. Set it aside.
- Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a saute pan and saute the onions over high heat until they get a little charred on the edges.
- Find a casserole or lidded pot just large enough to hold all the fish. Pour the lime juice into the pot and lay down half the onions.
- Put the fish pieces on the onions, then lay the rest of the onions over the fish and drizzle over 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover with foil or the lid. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick the fish pieces are.
- Meanwhile, buzz the garlic, jalapenos, white wine vinegar and all but 2 tablespoons of the cilantro in a food processor until it is pureed. Drizzle in the remaining olive oil with the motor running.
- When the fish is cooked, serve by laying down some of the cilantro sauce and topping each plate with some onions. The fish goes on the onions, and you can top with a little more sauce and the remaining chopped cilantro.