Spicy Caribbean Mahi Mahi

Spooning the spicy tomato broth over the poached mahi mahi.

Looking for a new way to cook fish? This easy poached fish recipe takes you to the islands. Spicy Caribbean Mahi Mahi is a healthy fish dinner that’s ready in under an hour.

My grandparents are from the islands.  Martinique.  A little French island in the Lesser Antilles.  Our family dinners are largely influenced by the regional fare from that little outpost plopped in the middle of an azure blue sea.

Spicy Caribbean Mahi-Mahi is a prime example of that.  This dish is a standard in our house — like mac and cheese or chicken fingers for most families.  

Sweating green onions, shallots and garlic in a saute pan.

Actually, that’s not even what we call it.  In our family this dish is referred to as Court Bouillon  (Pronounced cooh-booh-yahn).  If you look up “Court Bouillon” online or in cookbooks, you’ll find recipes for a poaching liquid infused with wine, herbs and aromatics for gently cooking fish, shellfish and other proteins.  

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After the tomato sauce has simmered with the sweated shallots.

I guess the translation makes sense, this is a poached fish recipe, but with the spicy tomato broth it eats like a meal.  I’ve been making it since I was about 20 and maybe I’m biased, but it’s my favorite way to make MahiMahi, or any fish.  I’ve made it with snapper, cod — even Walleye!  

Nestling mahi mahi fillets into the sauce.

And it couldn’t be simpler.  Start by very gently sweating the shallots, green onions and garlic until they are practically translucent.  Then add some good quality tomato sauce and thin it out with a bit of water.  Red pepper flakes add heat — though my grandfather would make his own scotch bonnet pepper sauce to add to the simmering liquid.  You can add a few bay leaves while the sauce simmers too.

Poached fish in spicy tomato broth.

Then it’s time to add the fish.  Gently place the mahi (or whatever fish you’re using) in the broth, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and poach  for 5-6 minutes until it’s about halfway cooked.  Gently turn the fish and continue the spicy tomato bath!

Serving Caribbean mahi mahi over rice.

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of parsley right before serving will add a bright pop of flavor.  Serve this over sticky white rice – not the Uncle Ben’s converted rice – you want a starchier variety that will soak up the goodness.

We like this with a cool cucumber salad and a hot crust of french bread.  Don’t forget the wine.  It goes equally well with a red or white — I know that from experience.

Cutting into the flaky mahi mahi fillet.

More tasty fish dinners you’ll love:

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Serving Caribbean mahi mahi on a bed of rice.
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4.11 from 65 votes

Spicy Caribbean Mahi Mahi

Lightly spiced tomato broth poaches fresh mahi mahi.  Serve over sticky rice for a healthy, flavorful meal!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword mahi mahi
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Egg Free, Gluten-Free, Pescatarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 pound mahi mahi fillets cut into four portions
  • 5-6 green scallions thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 shallots thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces good quality tomato sauce
  • ¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes depending on how spicy you like it
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2-3 grinds of black pepper
  • ¾ cup water divided
  • juice of half a lemon
  • chopped parsley for garnish

Serve with

  • 2 cups cooked long grain white rice – you want the rice to be sticky — NOT converted rice.


  • Add the olive oil and heat over medium-low heat in a 9″ or 10″ skillet with a tight fitting lid. Add the scallions, garlic and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and translucent about 10-15 minutes. (Don’t crank up the heat – you don’t want these vegetables to brown).
  • Add the tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine and continue cooking, uncovered, until sauce has thickened somewhat, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining ¼ cup water and place the fish fillets in the poaching liquid. Put the lid on securely and poach the fish on low to medium-low heat for about 8 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, flip the fish over and continue to poach for an additional 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Squeeze lemon juice over the fish and chopped parsley. Serve on top of sticky white rice. A cool cucumber salad is good with this to take the heat off.


Poaching liquid should be looser than a typical tomato sauce. If its too thick, stir in two to three tablespoons of water to loosen it up. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings as needed.


Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 1221mg | Potassium: 818mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 810IU | Vitamin C: 11.1mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2.4mg

Don’t Forget To “Pin It” For Later!

If you're skittish about cooking fish try this easy poached fish recipe. Spicy Caribbean Mahi Mahi is fresh fillets simmered in a spicy island-style tomato broth. This easy fish dinner is delicious over steamed rice. #mahimahi #fish #fishrecipes #fishdinner #poachedfish #caribbeanfish #dolphin #seafoodrecipes #poachedseafood #mahimahirecipe

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  1. 5 stars
    So good!!! We just got back from our 4th time in the BVI and we have made this…probably 4-5x. Delicious! Simple!

  2. 5 stars
    This is a perfect recipe, so delicious!

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out very tasty! My husband, a picky eater, cleaned his plate. Thank you for sharing!

  4. 5 stars
    I tinkered with the recipe and I loved it. Will be using as a way to cook my fish likely once a week now. I added 1/4 tsp Turmeric, 1/8 tsp Cayenne powder in place of the flakes, 1 minced sweet pepper simmered in the sauce, 1 tsp Cumin, white pepper instead of black pepper,3 bay leaves and I pureed 1/4 RIPE mango in the water to add to the sauce. I also simmered the sauce down for 20 minutes not the 10 as instructed.

  5. 5 stars
    absolutely floored by how good this recipe is!!! i added in turmeric and subbed red pepper flakes for cayenne powder to make it reaaally spicy. fantastic, can’t wait to make it again!!!

  6. 5 stars
    We add cumin and turmeric and love this dish!

  7. JACOB L WRIGHT says:

    I made this for my family 2 nights ago. My son just informed me that this was “one of the 3 best meals I’ve ever had in my life.” He’s 19 and has eaten in 8 different countries.

    1. I’m so happy that your son enjoyed the mahi mahi! It’s a recipe that’s been in my family for years!

  8. Frank Mosher says:

    4 stars
    What an excellent recipe! Always trying to incorporate more tomato in my fish dishes, (sometimes even frozen Mah-Mahi fillets-usually all that is available here in Nova Scotia). C’mon Climate Change! LOL. This would be great for Haddock and Cod, Halibut, even Swordfish (all readily available) and even Basa filets from Vietnam (very good freshwater farmed fish-I think banned from the US to protect your Tilapia and Catfish farmers). I would hesitate with with farmed Salmon. Again thank you!

    1. I have been known to use this recipe with lots of different fish — including Wahoo, Snapper — and when visiting my husband’s family in Minnesota — Walleye. It’s very versatile!