May It Please the Palate: Grilled Mahi Mahi

By Nick Roumel

We like to bring things back from our vacations, like memories, photographs and souvenirs.

I include favorite recipes on that list.

This helps make up for what I’ve left behind, like my I-Pod, phone charger and sunglasses.

Still, Maui was beautiful and, even after returning to Michigan, I can’t stop feasting on all things Hawai’ian, like pineapple, macadamia nuts and those delicious Mai Tai’s.

Fresh fish and seafood is ubiquitous in the 50th state, including the fascinating poke — pronounced po-KAY – usually raw marinated ahi tuna.

“Oh yeah,” my server told me. “It’s big for football parties, with a bowl of chips.”

Well I don’t know about that, but I did enjoy the dense, mind flavorful and mild Mahi Mahi, a name that means “very strong” in Hawai’ian.

This fish is tasty and versatile, prepared traditionally, or as more common in the islands, with a sweet-and-spicy combination.

The recipe below calls for macadamia nuts.

I was saving some to use, but ate them for breakfast with my yogurt, so I substituted chocolate covered ones.

I know, right? (A catch phrase my wife and I enjoyed saying to each other on vacation.)

But these were actually dusted with cocoa and coffee, and not so sweet. So I thought it might actually work, if I omitted the honey.

Watching the chocolate melt as my fish was grilling was a bit of a surreal experience, and the flavor was not entirely incompatible.

Still, I think you’d be better off with a more normal nut so I’ve omitted the chocolate.

This way I don’t have to change this short, catchy name:
Grilled Mahi Mahi with Honey-Macadamia Crust and Pineapple-Ginger
Adapted from “Big Flavors of the Hot Sun,” Schlesinger and Willoughby

32 ounces Mahi Mahi fillets, cut diagonally a half-inch thick  
1 teaspoon coconut or vegetable oil  
salt and pepper 
3 TBS honey  
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, toasted a few minutes in a low oven, then crushed

Pineapple-Ginger Relish:
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced small
1/4 cup pineapple juice  
1 TBS minced ginger  
2 TBS scallions, thinly sliced  
1/4 cup lime juice  
1 teaspoon chili pepper, minced (red or green)
1. First make the pineapple-ginger relish. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Rub fillets lightly with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on grill over a medium-hot fire; cook for 5 to 6 minutes.

3. While second side is cooking, coat the exposed side lightly with honey and sprinkle with crushed macadamia nuts.* After 5-6 minutes, flip and cook 1 more minute, coating the second side with honey and nuts. Flip again, and cook another minute or until crust is golden brown.

4. Check for doneness by cutting into a piece; it should be completely opaque all the way through.

5. Remove fish from grill, cut each in half, and spoon Pineapple-Ginger Relish over each serving.

*The crushed nuts will stick to the honey, but if it gives you fits, you can instead use them to garnish the finished product.

Serve with coconut rice and a green vegetable like grilled asparagus or stir-fried green beans.

A dash or two of soy sauce also helps perk up the flavors.

I also suggest a brightly spicy wine like a Pinot Grigio or Gewürztraminer.

And if you’re really adventurous, a bowl of poke, with a dash of chocolate.

I know, right?! Those crazy Hawai’ians!
Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation.
He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor.
He occasionally updates his blog at   


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