Food in South Florida is a potpourri of food influences from across the Caribbean and South America. Throw in the amazing seafood on offer and it is a feast for the senses and the palate! Since moving to South Florida from the Northeast almost 20 years ago, I have embraced the diversity of ingredients and food that makes up this multi-cultural pocket of the USA.
Grilling occurs year round in South Florida where our seasons range from hot to really, really hot. Fish on the grill is a year round delight in with stellar fishmongers everywhere here – the bounty of the sea is brought in by fishing fleets up and down the southeastern Florida Coast every single day. You can even buy straight off the back of the boats on most days if you know the schedule. One of my standbys is Old Dixie Seafood – a tiny place in Boca Raton, Florida that always has fresh Florida seafood available at decent prices. And they carry alligator – another South Florida treat that is best when fried!
Mango trees in South Florida are heavy with sweet, succulent mangoes – a tasty complement to any kind of grilled fish. Scotch Bonnet Peppers add a delectable bite to match the mango sweetness and are an ingredient in many Jamaican dishes.
I love grains with my fish and while I normally prepare quinoa, I went with a dish that is found frequently in South Florida (especially with Curry Goat!). Jamaican Rice and Peas brings in the Caribbean flavors that meld beautifully with the fish and mango. Scotch Bonnet Peppers are also an ingredient in the Rice and Peas along with creamy coconut milk. Plantains are easy to make if you can find them in your markets and another frequent South Florida side dish.
Are you ready to eat??? ME TOO! What is on your grill this summer?
- 2 large ripe Mangoes cut into small chunks
- 10 oz San Marzano Tomatoes sliced (or you can use 2-3 diced tomatoes)
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper seeded and chopped finely (be VERY careful handling this pepper – I recommend using plastic gloves) – you can use less according to how much heat that you want to add
- 2 gloves of garlic chopped
- handful of Cilantro chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- generous drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 1/4 cup)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle the EVOO and mix in. Allow to meld for approx 2 hours in the refrigerator. Can be made a day in advance but check the flavors and adjust salt and pepper.
Grilling fish is fairly simple but does require a lot of attention. For more tips, check out my Grilling Fish 101 post. Mahi Mahi has a meaty texture which is perfect for the grill. It does not crumble easily and has an almost sweet flavor and is fairly mild. I was serving four people and I had just over two pounds of Mahi Mahi. Everyone ate their fill and we had some leftovers!
Grilled Mahi Mahi
approx 6-8 oz Mahi Mahi per person
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Brush each Mahi Mahi steak with EVOO. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grill on a medium hot grill (or medium hot grill pan) for approx 6 minutes each side or until done through the middle. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.
I like to bring my Mango Salsa close to room temperature and then add it to the grilled Mahi once the fish has rested for a few minutes. Serve on a bed of rice, quinoa, or even with potatoes. Try the grilled Mahi as a sandwich with coleslaw too – YUM!
Jamaican Rice and Peas
- 3 cups of rice
- 1 can of Green Pigeon Peas (or you can use red kidney beans)
- 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- 3 scallions or green onions (white or yellow onions work as substitute and use half of 1 small)
- 1 uncut scotch bonnet pepper (Serrano peppers or other peppers may be substituted)
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme or 3 teaspoons of dried thyme
Rinse the peas out of the can. Use the coconut milk plus additional water as needed as the liquid to prepare the rice. Add chopped garlic, uncut pepper and thyme sprigs to rice as you are beginning to prepare. If you are using white or yellow onions, add them now as well. Salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the rice as directed on package using the coconut milk as the liquid. Once the rice is done, Remove the uncut pepper and thyme sprigs before serving. Add peas in last few minutes of rice prep to warm them. Add scallions to serve.
ENJOY a taste of South Florida!