Tuesday, July 28, 2009


There's nothing like traveling over 70 miles of highway, mostly surrounded by high sand dunes, live oaks and red cedars, to feel like you're going to the end of the earth. As we left the bustle of Duck, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head, through the Pea Island reserve, past the Bodie Island lighthouse, my pulse was slowing and a smile was showing. After a few pleasant hours signing my book, THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK, and a live broadcast with Moose on the local radio station at Waves, off we went to a favorite respite in Hatteras, right on the marina dock. I like working vacations like this.
The charter boat business has been slower than usual, but some folks are still enjoying a fishing foray to the Gulf Stream, what captains call "The Yellow Brick Road" for the amber sargassum that floats en masse, providing a nice shelter for wahoo and dolphinfish, this weekend's Catch of the Day. Mahi Mahi, Hawaiian for "strong-strong," is the more commercial name for dolphinfish so that it won't be confused with Flipper.

Friday, I gave a cooking demonstration at the Duck town park, using mahi mahi in three recipes from my first publication, THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK. We grilled filets and served them with a pineapple salsa. We deep-fried some nuggets, according to a recipe shared with me by Capt Ernie Foster of the Albatross fleet in Hatteras. Then I sauteed some nice chunks in soy sauce, honey and fresh ginger and garlic. All three ways were quite tasty, my audience agreed.
Mahi mahi is a sweet fish. Before it's cleaned, it looks as though it has run into a wall, with a very snubbed nose. Gorgeous rainbow colors glisten along its spine, and those colors change from purple and green in the water to yellow and blue while on the dock.
We found Capt Ernie in his porch swing at his charter house on the dock, reading , as homework, the latest from author Jared Diamond. Ernie had gone to Vancouver to represent the local fishermen and to learn about Canada's ways to regulate the fishing industry. He wasn't too happy with where he sees US and state government regulations headed.
It's more imperative than ever for us, as consumers, to eat local, and buy local. Ask your fishmonger if the fish and shrimp were gathered in waters at least near our state's coast, NOT imported from Asia. Eat at restaurants who still care that the fish they serve is from local waters, caught by local fishermen on day boats, like Basnight's Lone Cedar on the Nags Head Causeway, or Cafe Atlantic or Pony Island on Ocracoke. You can taste the difference in freshness, and eating locally helps the local economy, not some foreign conglomerate.

Try the recipe below. If you buy the fillets already cleaned, it's FAST FOOD, served over orzo or rice.

SWEET GINGER AND SOY GLAZED DOLPHINFISH, from THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK: Recipes & Traditions from NC's Barrier Islands, 2008, ThreeForks, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press.

1/4 cup soy sauce
juice and zest from 2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1-inch cube of fresh gingerroot, minced (about 2 tablepsoons)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
four 4 to 6 ounce dolphinfish filets, skinned (or grouper, wahoo, or tilapia)

1. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, lime juice and zest, honey and cayenne.
2. In a large saute pan, heat both oils. When hot, add ginger and garlic, stirring constantly so garlic doesn't burn, for just one minute. Stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil.
3. Carefully add fish filets, skinned-side down, and cover the pan. Cook for abut 4 minutes.
4. Turn the filets over, and cook for an additional 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
5. To serve, place fish on plate over rice or orzo. Drizzle with the sauce, and serve immediately.
Serves four.

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