Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mahi-Mahi Sandwich with Garlic Aioli

I went to bed last night thinking about my tropical island in the South Pacific. I drifted off to sleep revisiting my memories of Amy’s and mines experiences. Wondering to myself, how to revisit and recreate those expenses in my own home here in Wyoming. A daunting task to be sure. Firstly, I don’t have Farmers markets readily available to me to buy fresh fish, herbs, breads, cheeses, fruits, and things I’ve never seen or cooked with. Be that as it is, I can make the best of the situation and move forward. My father once told me you can wish and want all you can, but in the end you still are just wishing and wanting with nothing to show for your efforts.

(Enter memory)
My very 1st time deep sea fishing I caught a Mahi-Mahi. Not a huge Mahi-Mahi but compared to my typical fly-fishing trips and the trout I produced this thing was gigantic! I could make up a story about how epic the catch was and compare it to an Ernest Hemingway moment at sea, but it really wasn’t. Being me, I dressed for the occasion with the loudest swim trunks I could find, that looked a lot like I was wearing a Sarong. In retrospect it wasn’t the most “Man” outfit in the world, and it screamed “I don’t take fishing seriously.”

When we showed up at the docks and found the deep sea ship we would be going out on, it never accord to me “Not” to ask the Captain, “Permission to come aboard Sir?” only to have a quick and not-so-friendly reply, “what are you, a vampire or something?” I still to this day feel that’s when the relationship with our host that afternoon went awry. Once aboard everyone, except myself, went to the top of the ship to where the Captain was steering the vessel. Now, I have a bit of experience from my youth and my adventures as a California sea scout, that when going out on a vessel to sea, being at the highest point of the ship is beautiful and spectacular, but if you don’t have “sea legs” and a sold stomach, you are doomed from the beginning.

Well, needless to say most everyone turned green once we were out of the Harbor and into what I thought was a relatively calm ocean. One by one my wife and our friends, came down below to try and calm themselves since the captain threaten them to “NOT” puke oh his deck or he would make them walk the plank. All the while I sat in the fishing chair at the back of the ship, getting instruction on how to reel in the mighty marlin we may catch today. After about 15 or so minutes of instruction, the 1st mate asked me, “Do you normally dress like this.” At which point I replied, “Like what?” My second mistake of our trip.

After an hour or so of relaxing and enjoying the waves and the smells of the ocean and its deep blue color with the contrasting skyline, I hear the 1st mate yelling at me, “FISH ON!” I replied, “On what?” I was quickly ordered with a few colorful directions to get into the fishing chair. I scrambled into the chair and buckled in, at which point he 1st mate slammed the rod between my legs. You ever have those moments in life were someone gives you something very quickly and you know what needs to be done, but you just stare at them with a stunned deer in the headlight look and are just completely stupefied? Well, that’s pretty much the following moments after I was handed the Fishing Rod. Once I gained my senses and received some more colorful instructions from the 1st mate, I landed my very 1st Mahi-Mahi. The 1st mate had gafted the fish and threw it into a big cooler so it wouldn’t bleed all over the Captains deck and flop all over the place, possibly getting one of us tangled in the line or even worst, hooked. Once the fish stopped pounding the interior of the cooler, the 1st mate opens the lid to let me see my mighty catch. I was so proud to have caught my 1st deep sea fish ever. I asked the 1st mate if this was one of the biggest Mahi-Mahi he ever seen caught. He looked at me, looked down at my swim trunks, and scoffed, “That was just a baby.” My balloon of pride was pricked! That Mahi-Mahi was our 1st and only fish caught that day.

Me and my HUGE Mahi-Mahi.
Notice the 1st Mate in the background looking
twords the parking lot?  He's watching my Best friend
Blowing cookies in the parking lot

Now, that wasn’t the only event going down on the Ship that day. My best friend was working on his 12th shade of green, all the while, sitting near the railing trying his best not to lose his cookies. Maybe, for him this very pricey deep sea excision wasn’t a stroke of genius on all our parts, since prior to going to the island together, he had fought for months with Vertigo. To his honor, we did make it back to the dock after cutting the trip a few hours short before he lost his cookies in a parking lot trash can. What a trooper. We thanked our not-so friendly hosts and tipped the 1st mate and departed.

In retrospect, I enjoyed that time and would do it again in a hart beat. I came away with fresh fish for our meal and a memory that I will never forget. A few life lessons as well.

The following recipe is what I made with our fresh caught Mahi-Mahi for the four of us. I made this along with some Fresh Sea Salmon I baked with the Garlic Aioli and Scallops I bought from one of the local fresh seafood markets. With all that and some of the local farmers market fruit and cheeses, it was an experience we still talk about.

Mahi-Mahi Sandwich with Garlic Aioli

Grape seed oil, for frying
2 1/2 pounds Mahi-Mahi
3 tablespoons seafood seasoning, plus more for sprinkling
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 eggs beaten
Garlic Aioli, recipe follows
1 large French baguette, cut into 4 servings
12 tomato slices
8 romaine leaves
1 small red onion, sliced thin

The Prep:
Preheat oil in sauté pan.
Lightly sprinkle your Mahi-Mahi with seafood seasoning on both sides.

Doctor Dredge:
In 3 separate bowls:
1st Bowl, flour mixed with 3 tablespoons seafood seasoning.
2nd Bowl, 3 beaten eggs.
3rd Bowl, Panko

Dredge fillets into flour, egg and then panko. Add fish to oil and fry until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined platter.

Spread the Garlic Aioli sauce on both sides of your baguette.

Layer some romaine on the bottom, then top with fish, sliced tomato, red onion and then finally, a little more romaine on top. Add top portion of bread to make a sandwich.

Garlic Aioli

3 cloves garlic
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt


Crush the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife, and remove the skin. Then mince the garlic very fine. Add a pinch of salt, and using the flat of the knife again, scrap and press the garlic against the cutting surface to make a very smooth paste. It's making this paste from the fresh garlic that gives aioli its intense garlic flavor.

Add the garlic to a small bowl, and whisk together with the rest of the ingredients. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

In closing, if you happen to be going to Hawaii and staying on the "Big Island" and want to Charter a boat and do some fishing, I would recommend the guys at Bite Me Sport Fishing in Kona, Hawaii.  Even though I started off on the wrong foot with the gents, they did do a good job and were very helpful training me on what to do with a not-so big fish.  I take the Blame for being a bit Wyoming and a tad nuts.  They responded as I would to a fat guy with a not so flattering outfit and a sarcastic tendency.  Good times were had by all.


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