Darlings! A few years back, La Diva enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Talula restaurant here on Miami Beach during Miami Spice week. The dish I remember was that of a mild crispy-skinned fish resting over Israeli couscous in a flavorful broth. Since I just bought some Israeli couscous and had a hankering for some fresh mahi mahi, I thought I’d try to duplicate the dish from memory.
But first, let’s clarify a few things. Mahi mahi is also called “Dolphin” or “Dolphinfish.” It is NOT a dolphin. The fish has a prominent forehead like a dolphin but that’s as far of a resemblance as there is to good ol’ Flipper! Feel better now, darling? Good! I picked up some fresh, wild mahi mahi at the grocery, asking the fishmonger to leave the skin intact. La Diva loves mahi mahi as it is a mild tasting, white-fleshed fish that is very meaty yet succulent. As for the Israeli couscous, it is not like the North African version but more like a larger pearl-shaped pasta, except it is toasted. Once again inspired from the weekly farm share, I had some tomatoes and zucchini to use up from the last week’s bounty as well.
To begin: I took the two beautiful mahi mahi fillets out of the fridge, salted them and left them to rest. Then, I took a good pinch of saffron, put the threads into a small bowl and added about a half a cup of hot water. Meanwhile, in a small pan, I heated up a teaspoon of olive oil and lightly toasted about a quarter cup of Israeli couscous over a medium heat. When the couscous was browned, I added half of the saffron water and covered the couscous with chicken broth. I cooked the couscous until tender, about 8 minutes, and had to add a bit more broth so it would not dry out. After it was cooked, I took it off the heat and set it aside. I did not use salt as the broth would have plenty.
I then minced up one small shallot and a garlic clove and then sweated them in a saute pan with olive oil. Next, I added one small finely sliced zucchini and cooked for just a few minutes. From there I tossed in a few small tomatoes that I had quartered and then added the saffron water and a cup of the chicken broth. I kept this simmer over a low heat while I prepared the fish.
For the fish, I heated up a fry pan with olive oil and then seared the fish, top side down. After a few minutes, the fish formed a nice brown crust and I flipped over onto the skin side. (Leaving the skin on the fish helps the fish retain its moisture but also many people enjoy eating the skin, especially if it is crispy.) I continued cooking until the skin became crisp and then finished the fish in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for only a few minutes more. Take care not to overcook the fish by testing to touch. If it yields to your touch, it is not done.
In shallow bowls, put a bit of the couscous into each bowl and then ladle over the top the zucchini saffron tomato broth. Now, place the crispy fish skin-side down on top and EAT!
Result: Very flavorful and tasty. DJ Nevah L8 actually went back for seconds of the fish, which is unheard of! The couscous is quite a fun texture to consume, as it is really lovely little pasta pearls. I really loved the flavor of this dish and the freshness of the fish made all the difference as there was no fishy taste at all, just juicy, subtle deliciousness! Seeing as this dish took all of 20 minutes to prepare, I’m definitely going to remember this meal and put it into my recipe file! Ciao!
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Originally posted 2009-01-28 14:06:00.