A true taste of the island, this recipe combines my favorite flavors from Bora Bora. Baking with banana leaves infuses flavor into the mahi mahi, which is then topped with traditional French-Polynesian ingredients like vanilla bean and coconut milk mixed into a purple cabbage slaw.
1 lb of fresh banana leaves (can substitute with tinfoil for baking)
4 cups cooked rice
4 - 4 oz fillets of mahi mahi (can substitute with cod, swordfish, or tuna)
light salt and pepper for seasoning
4 pieces of 4 foot long cooking string
(optional) additional lime wedges for drizzling before serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Wash banana leaves and trim any discolored edges. Cut banana leaves into large squares, big enough to completely wrap the rice and mahi mahi inside (about 2 square feet).
Place 1 cup of cooked rice in the middle of the pre-cut banana leaf square (or tinfoil if substituting), place mahi mahi on top of rice, then lightly season the fish with salt and pepper. Wrap the rice and mahi mahi in the banana leaves into enclosed rectangular bundles and secure with kitchen string (wrap string like you are wrapping a present for maximum hold).
After all 4 banana leaf bundles have been made, place directly on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. The banana leaves will discolor, wilt, and dry out - this is normal and is part of the flavor-infusing process!
While the mahi mahi is baking, prepare the island slaw by combining the light coconut milk, lime juice, and split vanilla bean exposing the black beans inside the pod. Whisk the liquid slaw ingredients together in a bowl until thoroughly combined and the vanilla bean seeds are extracted from the pod. Remove and discard the split vanilla bean from the liquid and add 4 cups of shredded purple cabbage, combining until the shredded cabbage is thoroughly coated. Set the island slaw aside and keep refrigerated until the mahi mahi has finished baking.
(optional) If you have extra banana leaves you can create banana leaf placemats to go on top of your serving plates. Place a serving bowl, rim-side down, on a clean banana leaf. Use a knife to trace the edge of the bowl, carefully cutting a perfect circle into the leaf. Place banana leaf circle placemats directly onto the serving plate, one placemat per plate.
Once finished cooking, remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully unwrap the bundles of mahi mahi baked in banana leaves. Transfer the rice and fish of each bundle to individual serving plates (right on top of the optional circular banana leaf placemats) and top with one heaping cup of island slaw. Drizzle the remaining island slaw sauce and optional lime wedge over the dish before serving. Enjoy immediately!
If using frozen mahi mahi, thaw the fish in the refrigerator the night before.
Nutrition info per serving
(4 oz of mahi mahi, 1 cup cooked white rice (unseasoned), 1 cup island slaw)
1 serving of vegetables, 3.5 oz protein, 2 oz grain
484 calories, 16 g total fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 553 mg sodium, 70 mg cholesterol, 152 g carbohydrate (3 g fiber), 31 g protein, 20% DV iron, 9% DV calcium, 14% DV vitamin A, 74% DV vitamin C, 45% DV vitamin B6, 38% vitamin K