Products

Mahi

Coryphaena hippurus

Market Name(s): Mahi mahi, dolphinfish, dolphin, dorado

Contact Purchasing
Mahi
  • Primary Source: Domestic: Hawaii, Florida Imported: Taiwan, Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Fiji, Northern Australia.
  • Season: Year-round, but varies by region. Heaviest supplies generally Nov - March.
  • Primary Fishing Method: N/A

Size Range:

Max Size: 70 lbs

Avg. Size: 10-30 lbs

Product forms:

FRESH: H&G (“bullet-cut”), skin-on, pinbone-in fillets and portions.

FROZEN: skin-on fillets and portions.

Yield:

From H&G to skin-on, pinbone-in fillets: 68%; H&G to skin-off, pinbone-in fillets 30-40%.

Storage & Handling

Fresh fillets must be well-iced at 32°F to avoid histamines. Frozen fillets held at -5 to -15°F will last a year.

Cooking Suggestions

Mahi mahi is a deliciously versatile fish, thanks to a combination of relatively firm texture and mild, sweet flavor. Fruit-based salsas complement the flavor of mahi especially well. It is wonderful grilled, baked, pan-fried or steamed. Try grilling or frying a mahi portion for an outstanding fish burger, topped with guacamole and a papaya salsa.

Selling Points

  • Mahi is an exceptionally good-eating fish. Its medium-firm texture and mild taste are ideal for barbecuing and many other preparations.
  • Mahi’s exotic appeal allows chefs to be dynamic and creative in the kitchen.
  • Seasonal price swings give restaurateurs and retailers good opportunities to promote mahi when prices decline.

Defects

  • Gray, dull skin color an indicator of poor quality (good fresh fish should have a brightly colored skin with yellow flecks).
  • Blood spots indicate fish was not bled.
  • Brown bloodline indicates excessive age.
  • Excessive glaze in frozen fillets.

The Pacific Advantage

  • Consistent supply of larger mahi over 10 pounds, the preferred size
  • Highly trained purchasing department with international vendor base, including on site buyers at the Honolulu auction
  • Advanced training in handling of histamine producing species
  • Professional team utilizing state-of the-art handling, filleting and custom portioning techniques
  • Strict quality control, grading and receiving policies
  • Advanced H.A.C.C.P. program with full time inspection exceeds all industry standards
  • High-volume distribution network covering an extensive geographic area results in volume purchasing advantage, quick turnover and consistent supply of product
  • Sophisticated and highly structured transportation system promotes efficient and timely delivery

Summary

The Hawaiian name for the wide-ranging dolphinfish, mahi mahi, means “strong strong,” which aptly describes demand for this sweet-flavored, firm-textured fish. Long a favorite fish in Florida and Hawaii, where they are landed in local waters, these days mahi’s exotic appeal means you’re just as likely to see it on a menu in Aspen, Colorado or in New York City.

One of the most beautiful fish in the sea, mahi are found throughout the warm waters of the world, where they are voracious feeders, consuming squid, mackerel, shrimp, crab and a variety of small fish (including small mahi).

Mahi are extremely fast-growing, reaching a size of 5 pounds in just six months and 20 pounds in just one year. Fully grown, mahi can reach 70 pounds and six feet in length, although most of the commercial catch is in the 10 to 20-pound range.

Mahi are landed primarily as a bycatch in the high seas tuna fishery, although small boat fishermen will target mahi at certain times of the year when the schools are running near the coast. Most mahi are caught by longline, however fishermen in small coastal fisheries will catch them on individual hand lines.

Relatively small amounts (less than 1,000 tons) of mahi are landed each year by fishermen in Hawaii and Florida, most of which is consumed locally. Supplies of imported mahi, on the other hand, are considerably larger, exceeding 10,000 tons in most years.

On the fresh front, Ecuador, Brazil and Costa Rica are the leading mahi suppliers, while Taiwan is the dominant supplier of frozen mahi.

Supplies of fresh mahi are highly seasonal and prices fluctuate widely, as much as $2 a pound over the course of a year.

Typically, supplies of fresh mahi peak in January and February, when the schools are running off Ecuador. Supplies can also pick up in the summer, when landings from Brazil hit their annual peak.

Catches of mahi from Ecuador and Costa Rica are typically much lower during El Nino years, as the fish migrate farther off shore.

Mahi quality can vary widely, especially with fresh fish. The best product is bled and well iced on short trips. However, a short trip is no guarantee of quality, since some small boats in developing countries often carry only a small amount of ice. On the other hand, mahi caught on a fishing trip of two weeks can still be very good quality if it’s well handled.

As mahi prices have increased in recent years, so has the incentive to farm this fish. In some ways, mahi are an ideal candidate to farm, as the fish can be raised to a marketable size in just six months and they are very prolific breeders.