I live in Florida and to be honest, our weather is hot to mild 365 days a year. We may have a few cold days, but most of the time, we are able to hang out comfortably outside. I know that this is not the case for many of my friends, family members, and readers! The long, cold months of winter are tough. The warmth of summer is fleeting. Sometimes, you just need a taste of paradise at your dinner table. Whether you are yearning for or celebrating during the hot summer months, my Blackened Mahi Mahi with Habanero Mango Salsa will satisfy your tropical cravings.
Please note, this post contains affiliate links which means I will receive a small commission on the sale of these items at no cost to you. For more information, see my Disclaimer.
Spicy filets of tender, flaky mahi mahi are topped with habanero mango salsa. Each bite is cooled off with a touch of avocado cream. A homemade blackening seasoning adds a spicy crust to the mahi mahi, which is cooked in butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet. The real surprise with this dish is the habanero mango salsa. I have a time saving super hack AND a trick of the trade to make this salsa easy to put together and not too spicy!
Why This Recipe Is Amazing
Like many of my other recipes, the components of this recipe are homemade and come together quickly and easily. The recipe *may* look a little daunting because there are quite a few ingredients. However, there are many time-saving shortcuts that I will discuss below.
All About Mahi Mahi
Mahi mahi is one of my favorite fish to cook and eat. It is both flaky and firm and has a sweet flavor that isn't fishy at all. In Florida, mahi mahi is pretty common, but I do understand that not everyone has access to this delightful fish. The good news is that you can substitute pretty much any fish in this recipe and it will still be delicious! My favorite substitutes in this recipe are:
- Fresh Tuna
If fish isn't your jam, fear not! You may substitute chicken breasts, pork chops, or shrimp in this recipe, as well! Obviously, the substitutions I am recommending will all cook differently from the recipe below, so be sure to cook your protein so it reaches a safe internal temperature.
Let's get back to mahi mahi and why it is so wonderful. In addition to how yummy it is, mahi mahi has some great health benefits. It is an excellent source of lean protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, selenium and B vitamins. It is also unlikely to have a high level of mercury. So, if you can find it, mahi mahi is the best option for this recipe.
Homemade Blackening Seasoning
I am a fan of making homemade spice blends. I love making my own taco seasoning, fajita seasoning, and Italian seasoning. My homemade blackening seasoning contains:
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- dried thyme
- smoked paprika
- cayenne pepper
- dried oregano
One of the reasons I love making my own spice blends instead of buying a premade blend at the store is that I can control the ingredients. Store-bought spice blends are fine when you are short on time. However, they are often higher in salt and additional ingredients that you wouldn't find in a homemade blend. That being said, it is totally okay to take a shortcut and use store-bought blackening seasoning, if need be! If you do choose to use store-bought blackening seasoning, these are my favorites:
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning
- Emeril's Seasoning Blend, Blackened
- Zatarain's Blackened Seasoning
Tropical Habanero Mango Salsa
Y'all. This salsa is incredible. Sweet chunks of mango, mild habanero peppers (more on that later), red onion, lime, agave nectar, chili lime seasoning, and cilantro - what's not to like?
Okay, so I'm doing a little bit of a culinary fusion here and it works! I'm mixing Cajun-seasoned fish with a more tropical salsa, flavored with a common Mexican seasoning. Guess what the result tastes like? HEAVEN.
Making Mild Habanero Peppers: A Trick of the Trade
I like spicy food, but I am not a fan of spicy peppers blowing my palate so I can't taste anything else! So, when I decided to try a habanero mango salsa, I wanted to figure out a way to make the habanero peppers mild. I wanted to be able to taste the actual flavor of the peppers without scorching my taste buds.
My biggest concern about habanero peppers is that, even after you remove the seeds and ribs/pith (which contain the most capsaicin, aka the thing that makes peppers hot), they still pack a fiery punch. I'm not one who enjoys having my face melted, so I needed to find a way to make this salsa habanero-forward, without causing people to go to the hospital. After some research, I stumbled upon an article on Bon Appetit's website. GAME CHANGER.
The article states that if you soak chopped and deseeded habanero peppers in a clear alcohol, like vodka or tequila, "the spice leaches out of the pepper and goes into the liquor." I'm sorry, WHAT?! Furthermore, after you strain the peppers, the remaining alcohol is spicy. So, you can use it to enjoy a spicy margarita or a Hot Honey Mojito with your dinner! What kind of witchcraft is this? So, I set out to try this experiment and guess what? IT WORKS! The habaneros were mild and the alcohol was spicy.
Originally, the recipe called for one habanero pepper, but with this trick, you can add 3-5 habaneros and not light an inferno in your mouth.
A Word of Warning
Habanero peppers are extremely hot. PLEASE promise me you will buy some food-safe gloves to wear while chopping your habanero peppers. If you do NOTHING ELSE, please do this.
A Time-Saving Super Hack
As always, when I have a time-saving super hack in a recipe, I make sure to share it with my readers. Fresh mangoes are a little finicky, when it comes to chopping them up. I'm not a huge fan of breaking mangoes down. They have a large pit and can be slippery on the cutting board. If you want to learn how to safely chop a mango, there is a video on YouTube that I think is great.
So, what is my time-saving super hack? Buying pre-sliced mangoes from your grocery store produce department. My grocery store carries peeled, sliced mangoes most of the time. When I'm making this recipe, I often buy sliced mangoes and then dice them up. It saves time and my general annoyance of chasing slippery mangoes around my cutting board.
Fresh mangoes can sometimes be difficult to come by year-round, so another option would be to use frozen mango chunks. Defrost them and then chop them into a small dice. The flavor will still be delicious and you will still be saving time with this process.
How to Make This Recipe
There are four components to this dish: the mahi mahi, the homemade blackening seasoning, the habanero mango salsa, and the avocado cream.
First, Soak the Habaneros
Using food-safe gloves and a sharp knife, remove the seeds and ribs/pith of 3-5 habanero peppers. Finely dice the peppers, submerge them in ½ cup of clear alcohol (such as vodka or tequila). Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Next, Prepare the Salsa and Avocado Cream
Cube the mango into ½" cubes, dice the red onion, zest and juice the lime, and roughly chop the cilantro. Mix these ingredients together and add agave nectar, Tajín, and salt and pepper. When 30 minutes expires, strain the habanero peppers and add them to the salsa. Set the salsa aside.
In a separate small bowl, mash a ripe avocado with ½ cup of sour cream. Add the juice of half of a lime. Thin the avocado cream by adding water and whisking until it reaches a drizzling consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Make the Blackening Seasoning
In a mixing bowl, combine paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the mahi mahi filets. You will likely have extra blackening seasoning. Store and use another day (try it on chicken or shrimp!). And no worries - the spices won't go bad for up to 3 years!
Prepare the Mahi Mahi Filets
Heat olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Dry any excess moisture from both sides of each mahi mahi filet using a paper towel. This will allow for a more crispy sear in the skillet. Liberally season both sides of each mahi mahi filet with blackening seasoning. Carefully place each filet in your cast iron skillet (this recipe calls for 6 filets, so you will need to work in batches). Sear each side of the filets for 2-3 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 137°F/58.3°C. Remove filets from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Assemble the Dish
On a platter, place blackened mahi filets and then drizzle them with avocado cream. Spoon the habanero mango salsa on top and serve immediately. Enjoy!
What is Tajín?
Have you ever tried Tajín? It is a chili lime seasoning that is super yummy. This is NOT a sponsored post, I am just a fan!
What's commonly called "Tajín" is really "Tajín Clásico," the first and most popular condiment made by Empresas Tajín in Jalisco, Mexico. It's made with ground, dried chile peppers (a blend of chiles de árbol, guajillo and pasilla), dehydrated lime and sea salt.- AllRecipes
I don't love having to buy an ingredient (especially a seasoning blend) if I'm only going to use it for just one recipe. I know most people don't have Tajín in their spice cabinet and I don't want you to buy it and not use it. Therefore, below is a list of food and drink recipes that use Tajín, so it won't go to waste! Also, a side note: try mangoes with Tajín sprinkled on top. You'll thank me later.
Drink Recipes Using Tajín
Food Recipes Using Tajín
Frequently Asked Questions
My blackening seasoning is a combination of spicy, smoky, and earthy flavors. The seasoning pairs perfectly with tender, flaky mahi mahi. The fish's flavor is mild and sweet and really showcases the stronger flavors of the blackening seasoning and the mango habanero salsa.
Yes, you may grill the seasoned mahi mahi filets on a barbecue or on a grill pan until the internal temperature reaches 137°F/58.3°C. I prefer to cook my fish in a skillet because I love the additional flavor of the olive oil and butter in which the mahi cooks. However, if you are looking to lighten the calorie load on this dish, grilling is a fine option.
A very enthusiastic YES! Just slice the cooked blackened mahi mahi and place into a warmed corn or flour tortilla. Top with habanero mango salsa and avocado cream and enjoy!
If you are having trouble finding fresh mahi mahi, you may use frozen fish. Just be sure to thaw it completely and dry it well with a paper towel before seasoning it and searing it!
Fear not! You may substitute just about any fish in this dish: salmon, grouper, fresh tuna, halibut, tilapia, cod... you could even use chicken or shrimp!
Try making the salsa with cubed pineapple or papaya! The main idea is to capture the essence of the tropics, so any tropical fruit would substitute well.
Sometimes, I can't find habanero peppers. You can substitute jalapeño peppers in this recipe, no problem. Depending on your sensitivity to spice, you may not even need to soak your jalapeños - just be sure to remove the seeds and ribs. Also, please wear food-safe gloves!
This mahi mahi recipe will last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Please be sure to keep the fish refrigerated in an airtight container.
Yes, you can freeze the blackened mahi mahi after it is completely cooked. Once it has cooled, wrap it tightly to store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use it, allow it to thaw completely in the refrigerator. Then, to reheat it, wrap it in foil and place in an oven set to 275 ° F/135 ° C for 15 minutes.
The salsa and avocado cream do not freeze well. I recommend making them fresh each time you make this recipe.
Looking For More Dinner Ideas?
Try these delicious dinner recipes from Trendgredient:
Blackened Mahi Mahi with Habanero Mango Salsa
- 1 pair Food Safe Gloves
- 1 whisk
Habanero Mango Salsa
- 3-5 habanero peppers seeded and finely diced
- ½ cup clear, 80-proof liquor such as vodka or tequila (for soaking habanero peppers)
- 2 cups fresh mango cubed into ½-inch pieces
- ½ medium red onion peeled and finely diced
- 1 lime zested and juiced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp. agave nectar
- 2 tsp. chili lime seasoning I use Tajin (not sponsored)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large ripe avocado
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ lime juiced
- water (for thinning the cream) up to ¼ cup
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. dried thyme
- ½ tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. coarsly ground black pepper
Blackened Mahi Mahi
- 6 4-6 oz. filets of mahi mahi fresh or thawed
- 2 tbsp. blackening seasoning (see above)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp. butter unsalted
Soak the Habanero Peppers
- Using food-safe gloves and a sharp knife, carefully remove the seeds and pith of 3-5 habanero peppers.
- Finely dice the habaneros.
- Soak habaneros in ½ cup of 80 proof clear liquor, like vodka or tequila, for 30 minutes in a small mixing bowl or liquid measuring cup.
Make the Salsa
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine mango cubes, diced red onion, lime juice and zest, chopped cilantro, agave nectar, chili lime seasoning, salt, pepper, and (after 30 minutes), diced habanero peppers.
- Mix salsa ingredients well and set aside.
Make the Avocado Cream
- In a small mixing bowl, mash the ripe avocado with the sour cream and lime juice.
- Whisk in enough water to achieve a drizzling consistency.
- Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
Make the Blackening Seasoning
- In a small mixing bowl, combine paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Season and Cook the Mahi Mahi
- Heat olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
- Dry any excess moisture from both sides of each mahi mahi filet using a paper towel. This will allow for a more crispy sear in the skillet.
- Liberally season both sides of each mahi mahi filet with blackening seasoning, about 3 tablespoons of seasoning total.
- Carefully place each filet in your cast iron skillet (this recipe calls for 6 filets, so you will need to work in batches). Sear each side of the filets for 2-3 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 137°F/58.3°C.
- Remove filets from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Assemble the Dish
- On a platter, place blackened mahi filets and then top with a drizzle avocado cream.
- Spoon the habanero mango salsa on top and serve immediately.
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