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Mahi-mahi (coryphaena hippurus) can be used for different recipes and produces excellent results each time, regardless of the cooking method used.
This fish is readily available fresh, frozen, or canned. Its somewhat meaty texture and super mild flavor enable the fish to take on the flavor of whatever you cook it with; you can use any marinade or seasoning of choice to flavor it up.
However, mahi-mahi isn’t available all year round. So, when not in season, you can use other mahi mahi substitutes such as tilapia, cod, tuna, salmon, white sea bass, halibut, rainbow trout, and swordfish.
These are different types of fish with a meaty flavor similar to mahi-mahi and can be used in its place when grilling, baking, or making soup/stews.
What Is Mahi-Mahi?
Also known as the dolphin fish, mahi-mahi is commonly found in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It has a range of varieties and can grow up to two meters in length and weigh up to forty kilograms.
This fish has a long, slender body and a dark blue back and silversides with a protruded upper jaw, a characteristic that gives it its common name.
Mahi-mahi is relatively small and does not usually grow more than 30 pounds. It is commonly found in the warm waters of the south pacific, Mediterranean, and Caribbean. Still, it also occasionally migrates through the Atlantic Ocean with a short lifespan of about four to five years.
Mahi-mahi is a Hawaiian phrase that means “strong-strong.” it also goes by the misnomer “dolphinfish,” although mahi-mahi is nowhere related to the mammalian dolphin family.
It also gets called “dorado” due to its sparkly golden color, but regardless of the pseudonym you give it, this fish is completely delicious.
Mahi-mahi can be prepared in different ways but avoid overcooking it, as it is a lean fish, which will dry out when cooked for too long. Depending on the thickness of the fish, you only need to cook it for about three to four minutes on each side.
If you intend to grill your mahi-mahi fillets, do so with the skin still intact so that the fillets hold together better.
See Also: Best Red Snapper Substitutes
How Does Mahi-Mahi Taste?
Mahi-mahi has a mild taste with a discrete sweet undertone. It has a stronger fishy flavor compared to white fishes such as cod or haddock but tastes milder than swordfish. Generally, larger, mature fish tastes stronger than younger ones.
Best Mahi Mahi Substitutes
Even if you have never tasted it, everyone has pretty much heard of salmon, not only because it is popularly consumed raw in sushi dishes, but it is also a pretty looking fish, with an attractive orange color. This is different from the light pink color of Mahi-mahi, that later turns white when cooked.
Salmon is commonly eaten raw and tastes delicious when cooked; it has a much richer flavor and fishy taste than mahi-mahi. Salmon has about six times the fat content of mahi-mahi but only contains 6% of the recommended daily intake per 3.5 oz serving.
The fat it contains is healthy and present because of salmons’ high omega-3 fatty acid profile. This fish also contains more b6, b12, and phosphorus than mahi-mahi but with the same amount of protein and less vitamin A.
Cod and mahi-mahi are saltwater fish; although mahi-mahi is typically larger than cod, both fishes also have slightly different flavors. Cod makes a sustainable replacement for mahi-mahi because it lacks an overpowering flavor and is quite mild compared to other substitute options like mackerel.
Cod forms large chunks like mahi-mahi when cooked and has a similar white and somewhat pinkish raw flesh, which turns white when cooked. You may find cod a little bit more fishy tasting compared to mahi-mahi, but this doesn’t keep it from getting the job done.
Cod is also a great source of fat like mahi-mahi but contains half of their sodium. This makes it a healthier replacement, although both fish contains almost equal calories.
Halibut is commonly confused as flounder because of its unusual appearance and similar flat-looking shape. However, halibut is much larger and has a white underbelly, while the top of its body is medium gray in color.
Halibut shares a similar flesh color to mahi-mahi when raw and cooked; both fishes have a mild non-fishy taste, grow to be large, and have a similar meat-like texture.
Except you are completely used to mahi-mahi, you may not be able to tell the difference when using halibut as a replacement because the only significant difference between both fish kinds is the slightly intense flavor of mahi-mahi.
So, halibut is perfect for when you are trying to keep the flavor profile low and more moderate tasting. This fish contains a higher fat content compared to mahi-mahi, and this is because of their higher omega-3 fatty acids, just like salmon.
Both fish, however, contains a similar amount of sodium and protein.
4. Fresh Tuna
Tuna’s deep red color is very different from mahi-mahi. Once cooked, it turns pink in color but has a moderate flavor that is very similar to mahi-mahi, making it one of the best mahi mahi substitutes.
Tuna makes an excellent mahi-mahi substitute with its similar flavor profile; you can also opt for tuna fillets that have a similar size to that of mahi-mahi.
However, fresh tuna has a significantly different color of flesh than mahi-mahi, but other than that, they are closely similar and deliver similar results in dishes.
Fresh tuna also has a similar fat and omega-3 content, just like mahi-mahi but with half its cholesterol and sodium amount. Fresh tuna is also a better source of protein and b vitamins.
5. Striped Bass
Striped bass is commonly found in the ocean but migrates to freshwater during spawning season; this fish is closely comparable to mahi-mahi.
Their raw light pink flesh that turns white when cooked gives both fishes a similar appearance. Striped bass also has a subtle fishy flavor that isn’t overly intense and overpowering. They can grow quite large, just as mahi-mahi.
Striped bass has a fat content that is three times as much as the content of fat in mahi-mahi because bass contains high omega-3acid.
This substitute for mahi-mahi contains about two-thirds of the sodium content in real mahi-mahi but with roughly the same amount of protein.
6. White Sea Bass
If you can handle an intense fishy taste of other fish like mackerel or anchovies, you can totally use white sea bass to give your recipe a stronger flavor.
It is commonly found on the seas rather than lakes or rivers. This fish has similar characteristics to white sea bass and makes a good replacement.
Some of their similarities include having the same color of flesh, both raw and when cooked, and their mild and subtle taste.
White sea bass is another fatty fish replacement for Mahi Mahi with three times more than the amount in mahi-mahi because of its healthy omega-3 fatty acids but with similar sodium and protein content.
7. Rainbow Trout
Rainbow trout is much smaller than mahi-mahi in size, and their flesh ranges in color from orange, pink, or white. Rainbow trout are exclusively freshwater fish, making them a bit different from the other substitutes of mahi-mahi on this list.
Trout has a bit more gamey flesh compared to mahi-mahi, but it is also very delicate and has a mild flavor.
This fish also has more nutritional value; it is a great source of fat because of its high omega-3 fatty acids, which are higher than any other substitutes, including striped bass and salmon.
Rainbow trout contains more vitamin A than mahi-mahi but with one-quarter of the sodium.
Grouper is a white-fleshed fish; it has a firm texture and a large flake, with a mild and sweet taste. This fish is a great source of vitamin A and iron.
Grouper makes a great substitute for mahi-mahi in grilling and pan-frying dishes, but it can also be baked, boiled, or deep-fried.
Grouper is generally available as cubes, fillets, or steaks.
The robust flavor of marlins flesh enables you to use it in place of mahi-mahi in meals. Its flesh is tastier than that of swordfish and has a rosier, reddish color. Marlin isn’t the cheapest substitute option as it is considered a delicacy.
Marlin has a high nutritional value and is a great source of protein and vitamins. It has a high content of essential amino acids and iron as well. Its oily flesh absorbs and complements any intense flavor it is prepared with, especially when grilled.
Marlin is a nutritious source of lean and healthy protein; it is low in sodium and saturated fat and also contains vitamin b6, vitamin b12, selenium, along with niacin.
Rockfish is a blanket name for different fishes that hide under rocks, and they contain essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins. They can be prepared in various ways and have a mild flavor and delicate texture.
Rockfish have a nutty flavor with medium texture and fine flakes. Rockfish is rich in selenium, a compound with anti-cancer properties; it also helps to prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, and dementia.
In the absence of mahi-mahi, rockfish can make a quick substitute and deliver a similar taste and flavor. Rockfish can be prepared in different methods like frying, grilling, or steaming; it is perfect for almost any fish recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of fish is mahi-mahi?
Mahi-mahi is simply the Hawaiian name for the fish species “Coryphaena hippurus,” also known as the dolphin fish in English and the Dorado in Spanish.
Is mahi-mahi similar to halibut?
While mahi-mahi and halibut have a mild flavor, mahi-mahi is more delicate with faintly tropical sweetness. They also have a similar flesh texture, but halibut is white, while mahi-mahi has a pink hue.
Can I substitute mahi mahi for tilapia?
Tilapia has a slightly delicate texture and sweet flavor, like mahi-mahi. The two fishes are also mild-tasting; therefore, in most recipes, you can substitute mahi mahi for tilapia.
Is mahi-mahi similar to cod?
Yes, mahi-mahi is very similar to cod and Grouper.
Does mahi-mahi taste like Grouper?
Yes, mahi-mahi has a slightly similar taste with Grouper, but it’s usually more affordable on restaurant menus.
Is mahi mahi like monkfish?
Mahi-mahi is like monkfish, but it has more flavor and is less overwhelming than a monkfish.