Pan-Seared Mahi-Mahi with Pineapple Salsa | The Rising Spoon

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pan-Seared Mahi-Mahi with Pineapple Salsa

Need an easy & healthy fish recipe? Try this pan-seared mahi-mahi (a neutral-tasting white fish) topped with fresh pineapple salsa. Serve it with your favorite sides for a quick weeknight meal in less than 30 minutes. 

Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Salsa

One of my go-to mid-week meals is fish fillets pan-seared in a cast-iron skillet. Lately, I'm digging pan-seared salmon with chimichurri sauce. I like to stock up on 2-packs of frozen wild-caught fish (usually at Trader Joe's) so I can grab one out of my freezer when I need a quick meal.

Fish fillets 
can be cooked in as little as 10-15 minutes (depending on their thickness) and if you forget to thaw them overnight in the fridge, you can simply run the bag under cold water in your sink for several minutes.

If you've never had mahi-mahi before, you're in for a treat! It's a neutral-tasting buttery white fish, which makes it perfect for picky eaters. I like to think of it as a poor man's halibut because it's 1/4 of the price, but similar in taste. As much as I wish I could eat wild-caught halibut every week (maybe if I lived in the Pacific Northwest or Alaska), my pocketbook appreciates mahi-mahi much more.

Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Cajun Seasoning & Pineapple Salsa

How to Cook Mahi-Mahi Fillets

I know oven baked fish is really popular (and easy), but I think the key to an amazing tasting fillet is a delicious crust, which you're not going to get if you just season it and pop it in the oven. At the very least, you should sear it first and then bake it the rest of the way. (I've done this before with halibut using Gordon's Ramsay's technique.)

I much prefer quickly searing the fillets on the stove-top in a hot oiled cast-iron skillet, which develops a beautiful crust packed with flavor. Although, the key is to generously season the fish with a good spice mixture. My current favorite right now is this Cajun seasoning, which has a blend of sea salt, paprika, celery seed, garlic powder, black pepper, coriander, cumin, onion powder, red pepper, oregano, basil, ginger, fenugreek, dill seed, mace, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and sugar.  

Once you've seared the mahi-mahi, you can serve it straight from the pan with a wedge or two of citrus (lime, lemon, or orange) to squeeze on top. Easy, simple, and delicious. However, if you have an extra 10 minutes to spare, I highly recommend fixing a quick fruit salsa to spoon on top of it. 

The sweet and slightly spicy flavors of the salsa pair beautifully with the Cajun spices, citrus juice, and tender fish. Two of my favorites are mango avocado salsa and fresh peach salsa, but today we're focusing on pineapple. 

Healthy Fish Recipe: Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Salsa

If you want to serve the fruit salsa immediately, it's best to choose a fruit that's already very ripe & juicy. Otherwise, you'll want to chop everything, mix it in a bowl, and let it macerate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to bring out the flavors. If you're short on time, you can skip the macerating and it'll still taste yummy OR just fix it the day before.

My go-to fruit right now is pineapple since it's bright, sweet, and is shipped ripe to the grocery store. No need to wait several days for it to ripen (I generally have to do this with mangoes) and if I have any leftover, I can freeze it in chunks for smoothies. Easy peasy! 

Healthy Fish Recipe: Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Salsa

What To Serve With Mahi-Mahi

Since the mahi-mahi is the star of the show, I tend to choose simple side dishes to serve with it. The easiest is when I have leftover sides from the night before. Isn't that the BEST feeling?!

When I'm not so fortunate as to have leftovers, I generally serve pan-seared fish with some type of starch and vegetable like coconut rice, cilantro lime rice, sauteed asparagus, roasted diced potatoes, oven-roasted green beans, pan-fried asparagus, mashed cauliflower "potatoes, or a leafy side salad with homemade blue cheese dressing, ranch dressing, or apple cider vinaigrette. A vinegar-based red cabbage coleslaw would be another good option if you don't want to crank up your oven.

yield: 2 servingsprint recipe

Pan-Seared Mahi-Mahi with Pineapple Salsa

prep time: 10 MINScook time: 10 MINStotal time: 20 mins
Need an easy & healthy fish recipe? Try this pan-seared mahi-mahi (a neutral-tasting white fish) topped with fresh pineapple salsa. Serve it with your favorite sides for a quick weeknight meal in less than 30 minutes.


  • For The Pineapple Salsa:
  • 1 cup of finely diced pineapple
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of finely diced onion
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice (from 1/2 a lime)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1-2 dashes of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • For The Mahi-Mahi:
  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless Mahi-Mahi fillets, patted dry (thaw first if using previously frozen)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of cooking oil (I used avocado oil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning (I used THIS Cajun seasoning)
  • 1/2 a lime, cut into wedges (for serving)
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  1. Combine all the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl, stir well, and set aside to macerate as you're fixing the fish.
  2. Coat both sides of each Mahi-Mahi fillet with cooking oil (I used 1 teaspoon total), followed by the sea salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, and Cajun seasoning.
  3. Place a 10 to 12-inch heavy bottomed skillet (I prefer a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat. When the skillet is warm, add the additional 1 1/2 tablespoons of cooking oil (or enough to coat the bottom of the skillet). When the surface of the oil is just starting to shimmer, add both fillets (it should sizzle, but the oil shouldn't be smoking).
  4. Cook the fillets about five minutes on the first side (watch the sides and you'll see them go from transparent to opaque halfway up the fish), then flip and cook another 3-5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fillets) or until the mahi-mahi is completely opaque, but not dry.
  5. Promptly remove the fillets from the skillet (they will overcook if left in the pan, even with the heat off), top each fillet with 1/2 the pineapple salsa and serve immediately with lime wedges and your favorite sides.
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A quick & healthy recipe for pan-seared mahi-mahi (a budget-friendly neutral tasting white fish) topped with an easy pineapple salsa. Fix this in only 20 minutes for a fast, simple & yummy weeknight meal and save any leftover fruit salsa for snacking! (gluten-free, paleo & whole30)

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