Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Grillin': Mahi Mahi and Peaches

OK....First off, I have a confession to make. I've never bought Jamaican Jerk seasoning, and I'm not certain if I've ever eaten it. It's just that sometimes it's hard for me to buy prepared mixtures. I look at the ingredients, and I usually have all of them, (I'm an herb and spice nut), so why bother buying it pre-made? Why not just "wing it", and throw the ingredients together myself? For me, it's like the difference between making a cake from scratch or buying a mix. The mixes work perfectly well, and they save time - that's why they're still around. And we all use pre-made things for convenience sake from time to time. I know that I, for one, will buy those jars of minced garlic. Admittedly, I don't get the same heady rush of those oils being released as I mince the garlic, but sometimes mama just ain't in the mood. She's tired and there's a growl coming from her stomach. At that point, bring on the convenience!

Well, it turns out that there's another benefit from using those little conveniences. You wind up with a jar containing just a little bit of "stuff" in it, and this becomes the basis for a sauce or a marinade. The all-but-empty mustard jar, the jam jar that's been scraped, but not perfectly, the pickle juice that's left after the last pickle is gone. They all cry out for imagination and perhaps some vinegar and soy sauce, shaken vigorously to capture those last bits and cleaning the jar quite thoroughly.

I went to the Farmer's market last Sunday, and came home with a luscious, thick piece of Mahi Mahi. I knew I wanted to grill it, and I also knew that I wanted to do something different than I usually do, which is to use a rub of brown sugar, cumin, chili and I don't remember what all else. I was looking for another direction. So I turned to Epicurious and found a recipe for grilled mahi mahi with avocado melon salsa. (Click here for the link to that recipe.) That recipe calls for Jamaican Jerk seasoning, and clearly it presupposes that you have this in your pantry. Not me. So I hunted for a recipe for it. There was a dish listed somewhere in Epicurious that gave ingredients for this concoction. I had them (except for one). I was set. Oh my, does this look promising!

The idea for grilling the peaches came from reading Jenn over at The Leftover Queen. She has a mouthwatering post on grilled figs, which just made me want to lick the screen! Didn't have figs. Bummer. But, I had peaches, so I wasn't out of the game after all! I mixed some olive oil and balsamic vinegar together, brushed it on the peaches, and put them on with the fish.

So here, with notes on my own slant on things, is the recipe I used:

The Seasoning

1 onion, chopped (this is the one thing I didn't have)
2/3 cup finely chopped scallion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup minced pickled jalapeƱo pepper, or to taste (wear rubber gloves)
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 drops of Tabasco, or to taste
2 tablespoons soy sauce

The Fish

1 thick fillet of mahi mahi, or any other thick fillet, suitable for grilling
1 tablespoon olive oil

The Steps

Brush fish with 1 tablespoon oil. Spread seasoning in dish. Dredge fish in seasoning, turning to coat. Grill fish until just opaque in center, about 4 minutes per side.

So that's the way the script is written for this dish. But here's the thing: I didn't mince garlic cloves. I used the remains of what I had in the little jar, dumped the rest of the seasonings in, closed the lid and shook that jar like I was mixing paint. The other thing? Airhead here forgot that she had the grill on. No, I mean I really forgot. As in, I drove off and left the grill going. A gas grill, in fact. (I'm an Aquarian, OK? That stands for "space cadet" sometimes!) I don't know how long it was before the OMG, I LEFT THE GRILL ON! hit me, but I drove home to find that the house hadn't burned down, but the grill was definitely hot! I thought about Terry B's post over at Blue Kitchen, where he grilled chicken in hoisin sauce, and his advice to not cook it over direct heat, and to walk away after you've covered it. Wellllll........I certainly didn't need to cook anything over direct flames with a grill this hot, so I turned the gas off, slapped the fish and the peaches on and walked away.

20 minutes later, I opened the lid to find a couple of perfectly cooked peaches, and an almost perfect slab of mahi mahi. I turned the flames on again, flipped the fish, removed the peaches, lowered the lid and gave it another 2 minutes -- just enough time to get that grilled thing happening on the second side. What can I say? This dish turned out to be knee-buckling good, if I do say so myself! I still have 3 more peaches in the fridge (also from the Farmer's market), and if there's any gas left in the grill, they are going on!

Oh, and one last comment. Sometimes you've "got it", and sometimes you don't. I'm not satisfied with the photos this time, but I wasn't going to go image-less. So forgive me, dear readers. If you want to see a staggeringly good photo of a grilled fig, go visit Jenn's website. Then you'll understand my inspiration.


Unknown said...

Grilled peaches look awesome!

Anonymous said...

This all sounds delicious, Toni! And thanks for the mention, by the way. Regarding grilling, sometimes I do grill directly over the coals [or heat source]. But when you do indirect grilling, walking away from the grill and letting it do its work will get you great results.

Regarding mixes, specifically of the spice variety, I mostly agree with you. I do have and use Jamaican Jerk seasoning, though--it's great on pan seared pork chops. But I'm always astonished when I read recipes from New Orleans how many prepared things they use--onion powder, garlic powder, creole seasoning...

Someone else has been urging me to grill peaches. You've inspired me to give it a shot. Thanks!

Unknown said...

e - They ARE! You should try them sometime.

Terry - I just got back from an Indian grocery store. Lots of prepared things there -- I just don't know what to do with most of them!

Katie Zeller said...

I never buy the pre-mixed spices/herbs...'cause I can't!
I did buy a 'Substitution Bible' though, which is a great help!
I've been thinking about grilling peaches...Now I'm going to think seriously about it - especially if I can do it with the grill off LOL

Last words to mon mari every night: Is the grill off? Last response from mon mari: uhhhh

Toni said...

Katiez - There's a Substitution Bible? I've never heard of it -- sounds fascinating!

Stella said...

This does looks delicious, it's the first time I read about Mahi Mahi!

Unknown said...

Valentina - You could use any thick fillet of fish that swims in the waters nearby. We just happen to have mahi mahi

Thistlemoon said...

I really liked this post! I love the inventiveness that comes from the remains of the convenince foods! I do quite a lot of that myself!


Unknown said...

Jenn -- I agree -- if cooking weren't inventive, I don't think I'd be interested!

Chris said...

I have never had Mahi Mahi. Hmmm..., seen it at the fish market, but never bought it.

And I need to think about the jars with a little bit of "stuff" - turning the stuff into tastiness? I don't know if I have it in me....:)