Sauce highlights healthy fish dish


February 12, 1992|By Charlotte Balcomb Lane | Charlotte Balcomb Lane,Orlando Sentinel

IN THIS LOW-fat stuffed mahi mahi with orange mustard sauce, the tang of orange juice and the nuttiness of pistachio nuts complement the delicate sweetness of the fish.

The orange mustard sauce is a creamy blend of butter (just 1 tablespoon), evaporated skim milk and orange juice. The stuffing is a combination of fresh bread crumbs, crunchy pistachios, green onions and mustard. The entire dish tastes rich and satisfying but it won't load dinner guests down with unwanted saturated fat.

Thin fillets can be filled and folded in half and secured with a toothpick. This dish can also be made with other firm-fleshed fish such as flounder, orange roughy, grouper, red snapper or pompano. The shape of the fillets will determine whether the fish is rolled around the filling, stuffed inside a pocket or stuffed in a notch.

Serve this dish with rice and a green vegetable, such as sugar snap peas or broccoli.

Stuffed mahi mahi

Serves four.

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh mahi mahi fillets

1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice

non-stick cooking spray, preferably olive oil

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped shelled pistachio nuts

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 cup soft, fresh bread crumbs

2 tablespoons whole-grain or Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons orange juice

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

orange sauce (recipe follows)

Select thick mahi mahi fillets so you can cut a pocket in the center. Rinse fish under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Using a small sharp knife, start at the tail end and cut away the skin. Once started, the skin can almost be torn off in a single piece. (You can ask the fishmonger to skin the fillets for you.)

Cut the fillets crosswise into four even pieces. Slice a horizontal pocket about 1 1/2 inches long through the center of the fillet. If this is too much trouble, simply slice a V-shaped notch down the center of the fillet.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Rub both sides of fish with lemon or orange juice. Lightly coat a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and arrange fillets in it; refrigerate.

In a small bowl, combine the pistachio nuts, green onion, bread crumbs, mustard and orange juice. Mix the ingredients until they are moistened and stick together. Form about 2 to 3 tablespoons the filling into a log and gently stuff the log into the pocket or the notch in the fish.

Fillets that are 1-inch thick before stuffing will take about 15 minutes to cook, 10 minutes for each inch of thickness for the fish and five minutes to heat the stuffing. Fish that is about 2-inches thick after stuffing will take about 20 minutes to cook. Remove fish from oven when the meat is opaque. Do not overcook. Transfer the fillets to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Reserve any cooking liquid in the baking dish to add to the sauce.

Each serving, without sauce, has 269 calories, 5.5 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, 105 milligrams cholesterol, 533 milligrams sodium.

Orange sauce

Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup evaporated skim milk, heated to almost boiling

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons white wine

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour, salt, paprika and zest. Cook for one minute until flour absorbs butter and begins to bubble and brown. Add milk by drops, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. When all the milk has been added, whisk in orange juice, wine and any liquid left in the baking dish after cooking the fish. Cook sauce, stirring constantly, until it thickens.

Remove from heat and whisk in the mustard and lemon juice. Taste for seasonings. If made in advance, the sauce can be warmed over low heat.

Each serving of sauce has 50.3 calories, 1.6 grams fat, 5.8 grams carbohydrate, 5.1 milligrams cholesterol and 239 milligrams sodium.

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