I often intensely crave seafood, but being a low-income college student, I can only splurge on it perhaps once a month. And it goes without saying that purchasing and cooking seafood at home is a hell of a lot cheaper than eating out. When the seafood grumbles come, we typically opt for salmon. It’s hearty and can be prepared a number of ways. However, this time I wanted something a little different. It took me a while, but I hunted down a few filets of mahi mahi.

I don’t usually consider white fish a viable dinner prospect, but I was nostalgic for our family trips to Hawaii when I was younger, and I remembered the first time I ever tried mahi mahi. It was in a sandwich I had for lunch in our hotel. I was hooked. The fish was juicy, firm and perfectly grilled. It needed very little seasoning to make it wonderful.

I hoped to recreate that experience at home, but I wanted to kick it up a notch now that I’m more comfortable in the kitchen. While searching for recipes, I found a Bobby Flay recipe on the Food Network: Barbecued Mahi Mahi with Yellow Pepper-Cilantro Pesto

It sounded perfect: a simple execution and complex flavors. Luckily, aside from the fish and the various chili powders, I already had everything else in my kitchen. I could not find the chile de arbol powder though, and after some Internet research I decided to let it go. It seems like it would mostly add heat more than flavor. In retrospect, I wish I’d added something else, but the results were still more than satisfying.

I also had to improvise and use the broiler in my oven since I don’t have a grill. My apartment complex has a ban on barbecue grills, much to my chagrin. I’d like to own a cast-iron grill/griddle to use in the kitchen, but something like that is still outside of my budget. Meh.

Another thing I love about seafood? It all cooks extremely fast. Just a few minutes on each side, and the mahi mahi was perfect. The recipe stated that the barbecue rub should only be on one side of the filets, but since I was missing the really spicy component, I probably could have used a lot more of it. Ah, well. N00b mistakes.

While the mahi mahi turned out very good, my favorite part of the recipe was the yellow pepper-cilantro pesto. Instead of two yellow peppers, I used one red and one yellow, since I had both on hand. After roasting the peppers, I tossed everything together. I’ve never made pesto before, but it was surprisingly easy thanks to my blender. I added more garlic and a touch more parmesan cheese than I probably should have, but it didn’t harm the results in any way. David especially liked the pesto, and he’s not a huge fan of pesto. I love the pesto so much that I may make more and use it on other dishes, perhaps on steak or chicken.

I also cooked brown rice for the meal, but in the end I thought it would be better to turn this dish into fish tacos. The addition of fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream made it perfect.

So, here’s the finished result:

If I could afford it, I’d eat this more often. I’m already looking forward to next time.

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