A Squared: Friday Finds: Sweet Potato-Crusted Mahi-Mahi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Finds: Sweet Potato-Crusted Mahi-Mahi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Have you ever been to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que? It's one of the best BBQ joints around and the original is located in Syracuse, NY near my alma mater Syracuse University. It's a casual biker bar with bbq so good that it turned into a local central New York gem. When I was in college my dad would suggest making the 5-hour drive from Rhode Island to Syracuse just to take me out for dinner there. People clearly caught on because now they have a few other locations in Rochester, NYC, New Jersey, and Connecticut with lines out at the door at each one.

Since this restaurant is a family favorite, my parents gave me the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse cookbook for Christmas a few years ago. I was leafing through for a new recipe to try and stumbled across this Mahi-Mahi dish and thought it sounded delicious-- and surprisingly, not like the typical meals I was accustomed to eating at the Dinosaur. A lot of their BBQ recipes call for the low and slow method, which is obviously time consuming. If you don't have all day though and you're looking for a healthier dinner option with that good BBQ kick then this recipe is perfect-- for entertaining or for a weeknight meal.


For the Sauce--
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • Pinch each of Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Mutha Sauce (see cookbook) or Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sensuous Slathering Sauce *I used the bottled sauce
  • 1 Tbs. heavy cream *I used half-and-half instead
  • Juice of 1/8 lemon

For the Fish--
  • 4 mahi-mahi, tilapia, or other firm, white, 1/2-inch-thich fish fillets *We used mahi
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Creole mustard (preferably Zatarain's) or Dijon mustard *I used dijon and sprinkled with a dash of cayenne pepper to get that Creole flavor without buying another mustard for my fridge
  • 2 cups peeled, shredded sweet potatoes
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil

Preheat the broiler. Line a small low-sided pan with aluminum foil. Set the peppers in it and stick the pan under the flaming hot broiler. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, til the skin blisters and blackens. Drop the peppers into a bag and seal them up for several minutes to let the steam loosen their skins. Pull the peppers out, peel, and remove the seeds. Dice the flesh and set aside.

Place a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and let it heat. Add the onions and shallots, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook til soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more before dumping in the peppers. Douse with broth, Mutha/Slathering Sauce, cream, and lemon juice. Simmer 5 minutes, then transfer the steaming contents of the saucepan to a food processor. Whirl til smooth, and scrape the sauce back into the saucepan. Keep warm.

Inspect your fish fillets. If they have high spots, slice those down to get the thickness as even as possible.  Season the fillets with salt and pepper, and spread the top side of each with 1 scant Tbs. of mustard.

Take handfuls of shredded potatoes and squeeze out the moisture. Press 4 to 5 Tbs. of shreds on top of the each fillet so they stick to the mustard. Grind on lots of black pepper, and season with a pinch of salt.

Pour 1/2 cup of the oil into a nonstick frying pan. Set over medium heat til it sizzles when a drop of water is added. Cook 1 or 2 fillets at a time, potato side down first. Don't crowd the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, til the potatoes are nice and brown but not burned. Don't check til the fish has been cooking for at least 2 minutes. With a slotted spatula, carefully flip the fish over and cook for 2 to 4 minutes more, til cooked through. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels while cooking the other fillets. Add more oil as necessary, but be sure it's nice and hot before adding more fish.**

Ladle a puddle of sauce onto each plate. Nestle a fillet on top, and serve.

**My fillets were thick and I also like my fish a little more on the well done side.  I followed the beginning of these directions using about half the oil that the recipe called for to cook it in.  After flipping the fish to cook on the skin side, I sauteed for 2-4 minutes as suggested and then put the pan of fish in the oven and baked for an additional 10 minutes until the inside was opaque and flaked.

Original recipe by John Stage and Nancy Radke in Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse

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