Prep time: 3 hours
Active prep time: 30 minutes
Special equipment needed – None
Special skills needed – None
This is my best attempt at replicating a dish I had at the Rhum Shack in Hopkins, Belize. It was not on the regular menu, but apparently comes up as a special about once a week. They use barracuda, but since it is so hard to get that where I live, I’ve substituted Mahi Mahi. I believe it is a close enough replacement to do their recipe justice. The cooks there, like everyone I met in Hopkins, were extremely friendly and were happy to share the recipe for the relish and the crust. The crust adds a nice texture to an already meaty fish, and the relish adds a sweet counterpoint to the saltiness of the crust. I like to bury my fish in a heap of the juicy relish, while my wife uses a slotted spoon to make sure that no liquid can soften the crispy shell made by the crust. You’ll have to make your own decision on how to play that.
¼ Cup white onion
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ Cup roasted red peppers (Use bell peppers if you don’t like spice, or use Fresno chiles to add some heat)
1/3 Cup fresh pineapple
1/3 Cup cantaloupe
1/3 Cup papaya
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
4 portions of Mahi Mahi
½ cup pumpkin seeds shelled
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne (Optional)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
The slaw needs to be started at least 2 hours before everything else. Start by finely chopping the onion. The pieces of the onion, pepper, and all of the fruit should be about the size of a grain of rice. Combine the onion and the lemon juice in a medium sized bowl. Let this sit for at least 2 hours, but up to 24 hours.
After the onions have marinated in the lemon juice, start roasting the red peppers. Blacken the skin on the entire pepper. Once the skin has blackened and blistered, immediately put it under cold water. This will help the skin peel off easily. Once all the skin is off, the peppers will look red again and will be soft. Split them open and remove all the seeds and then finely chop them.
Chop the pineapple, cantaloupe, and papaya. Add all of these ingredients to the bowl with the onions and lemon juice. Add the brown sugar. Stir to combine. This relish should be served at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the crust, use a small food processor or spice mill to grind the pumpkin seeds. Be careful not to grind them too much, or they will be more like peanut butter than a coarse flour. I like to grind about ½ of the pumpkin seeds to the consistency of cornmeal and then rough chop the rest and combine them. That gives a nice crust that sticks to the fish and holds together, but still has a good amount of texture.
Combine the pumpkin seeds, flour, salt, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg.
Heat the olive oil in an oven safe pan over medium high heat. Dip the fish into the egg and then into the pumpkin seed mixture. Press the crust into the fish on both sides for an even coating.
Cook for 2 minutes on each side and then put the pan into the oven for 2 minutes. If your fillets are between 1” and 1 ½” thick, this timing should work every time. If they are really thick you’ll have to go a little longer. As soon as the fish come out, serve them topped with the relish or with the relish on the side.