This fish doesn’t get much respect. This has been true even after some people decided it would go over better if it were called ‘mahi -mahi,’ rather than the traditional, ‘dolphin’, or ‘dolphinfish’, important in both western cuisine and art for 4 millennia (long before Hawaii turned up). I came close to exhausting the topic, once before, at least as it relates to home food preparation. I posited what appears to be one of the reasons for its lack of popularity. I’m not willing to go into that again now, other than to point out that I’m talking about the water-breathing fish, and not the air-breathing mammal.
My own experience with it in the kitchen is that I liked it the very first time I had it, and I’ve liked it even more each time I’ve been able to bring it home.
The dolphin we had Wednesday evening was the best yet.
Some very special fresh onions played supporting roles in the preparation of both the fish
..and the vegetable.
- one dolphin fillet, about 13 ounces, from Blue Moon Seafood, halved lengthwise, dry-marinated with more than half a tablespoon of organic lemon zest, an equal amount of chopped thyme leaves from Stokes Farm, salt, and pepper, set aside for 30 minutes or so, divided lengthwise into 2 pieces, and seared inside a hot heavy, oval copper fish pan for about 3 minutes, former skin side up, turned over, and that side seared for the same length of time, the heat lowered and the pan loosely covered for a very few minutes with aluminum foil just before some thin-ish slices of very small French Leeks from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm and one small red pearl onion from Paffenroth Farms, sliced, were introduced and briefly sautéed along with the fish before the fish was removed and put onto plates, after which a bit of leftover black olive tapenade (Gaeta olives, brined wild capers, one salted anchovy, all from Buon Italia, some chopped fresh thyme from Stokes Farm) after it had first been mixed with a tiny amount of Rioja wine vinegar, was added to the pan and stirred, the now richly-savory pan juices poured over the top of the fish
- four small green and yellow summer squash from Berried Treasures Farm, sliced into thick disks and sautéed with 2 garlic cloves from Norwich Meadows farm, halved, until they had begun to caramelize, while halfway through their cooking 2 fresh ‘green onions’ from Berried Treasures, sliced fairly thinly, were added, and a little later, parts of one ‘cherry bomb’ (or ‘red bomb’) pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm, and everything continued to cook until both squash and onions had begun to caramelize, the pan removed from the flame and fresh chopped fennel fronds from Willow Wisp Farm were mixed into the vegetables (I had intended to sprinkle the beautiful fennel flowers themselves on the top once the vegetables had been served, but became distracted by the process with the dolphin and totally forgot to do so)
- one yellow-orange heirloom tomato from Down Home Acres and 4 of ‘the best cherry tomatoes’ from Stokes Farm, sliced, tossed together, dressed with a good Campania olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, some chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm, and served in low bowls on the side
- the wine was an Italian (Campania) white, Falanghina Feudi di San Gregorio 2014
- the music was Mozart’s Symphonies Nos. 32, 35, and 36, performed by John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists