Dorado with Cilantro

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In Mexico, mahi mahi is called dorado, and it’s served all over that country’s coastal regions, especially in the Pacific. This is a simple dorado recipe with a cilantro sauce you can use whenever you happen to have some.

Dorado fish with cilantro sauce on a plate with avocado and rice.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

And I suppose the sauce would be perfectly fine with other fish, too, like grouper, pargo, seabass, wahoo, etc. What makes this dorado recipe so easy is that it’s basically pan seared fish fillets with a simple cilantro sauce that can be made ahead.

The sauce consists of roasted white onions, garlic and green chiles like Anaheim or Hatch or poblano, lots of cilantro, some lime and water. You can add Mexican oregano if you want. Buzz it in a blender and you’re good to go.

You can cook the sauce in some oil, as I did in the picture, or leave it raw; the vegetables will have been cooked anyway. Cooking deepens the flavor but turns the cilantro sauce a little darker.

I cook the dorado in this recipe exactly the way I do in my pan seared mahi mahi recipe, which is served Cuban style with black beans, rice and a salsa.

Short version: Get a pan hot, get high smoke point oil hot (canola, rice bran, avocado, peanut, safflower, etc.), set the piece of fish down and jiggle the pan the moment it touches — this is important, otherwise the dorado will stick to the pan.

Sear hard only on one side, basting the other with the hot oil to cook it. If you have really big dorado, you can flip and sear both sides; “really big” means thicker than about 1 1/2 inches.

Rounding out this dorado recipe is some rice — and I often put some cilantro sauce in there, too — slices of avocado, and pepitas. If you’re not familiar with pepitas, they are hulled pumpkin or squash seeds. Easy to find at convenience stores or supermarkets.

Basic dorado recipe with cilantro sauce on a plate.
5 from 3 votes

Dorado with Cilantro Sauce

Obviously this recipe is fine with other fish, freshwater or salt. Use what you have.
Course: lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients 

DORADO

  • 1 to 2 pounds dorado fillet, or similar fish
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil, or other high smoke point oil
  • Black pepper to taste

CILANTRO SAUCE

  • 1/2 white onion, cut in half to make quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 Anaheim, Hatch or poblano peppers,
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • water
  • Salt and lime juice to taste

Instructions 

  • Take the fish out of the fridge and salt it well.
  • Make the cilantro sauce. Char the cut edges of the onions, the garlic cloves, and the skins of the peppers. Set the peppers in a plastic or paper bag to steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the skins, seeds and stems. Peel the garlic and roughly chop the onions. Put all of these, along with the cilantro, oregano if using, about 1/2 cup water, and a pinch of salt in a blender.
  • Puree the sauce, adding enough water to give it the consistency of cream. Add more salt, and some lime juice to taste.
  • Get a large sauté pan hot. Add the oil, swirl it around until it's hot. Pat the fish dry. I generally do 2 fillets at a time. Place a fillet down and immediately jiggle the pan to prevent it from sticking. Do the same to the other fillet. Let them sear for a solid 3 to 6 minutes, depending on how thick they are. You want the sizzle to sound like bacon, so not ragingly hot. Baste the exposed side of the fish with the oil by tipping the pan and spooning it over. Do this until it turns opaque.
  • When you see a line of nice, caramelized fish where the dorado meets the pan, carefully try to lift the fillet. If it comes up easily, you're done. If not, let it keep cooking. It's OK if the fish sticks in one or two little spots, but don't scrape it up.
  • Move the fish to a cutting board and grind black pepper over them. Do the other two fillets. If you're working with larger fillets and are worried the first ones will get cold, set them on a baking sheet in a warm oven, seared side up.
  • To serve, pour some of the cilantro sauce on a plate, add the fish seared side up, and garnish with whatever you want. I like roasted pepitas and some avocado slices. Simple rice mixed with some sauce is a good starch.

Notes

If you want to cook the cilantro sauce, add it to the pan after all the fish are done. Swirl it around, drop the heat to low, and scrape up any browned bits off the pan with a wooden spoon. 

Nutrition

Calories: 206kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 511mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 344IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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1 Comment

  1. We found the recipe to be quite bland. With a lot of modification, such as more lime, oregano, and salt, and the addition of jalapeño and olive oil instead of water it finally found some flavour.