Grilled fish is a light and quick dinner, even on busy weeknights! You can make it on a gas or charcoal grill, or just keep things simple and fire up the grill pan. Shisito peppers add a unique twist to homemade tartar sauce.
This is another recipe inspired by my baby sister’s birthday dinner at Hula Girl in Arlington; the root beer sticky ribs are the other. I’d actually been talking to the Godfather about grilling fish since, oh, February, but it takes him a surprisingly long time to grill compared to his turnaround time for testing barbecue recipes. So, I made this one by myself! On the grill pan (ha!), and then whipped up the sauce using shisito peppers from my garden. Would you like to hear about my gardening (mis)adventures?
I’m very much a newbie gardener, I buy seedlings for everything because I’ve killed all the seeds I’ve tried to start. Last year I was moderately successful with a few container plants and herbs, so this year I expanded and completely filled our tiny townhouse porch with containers. There’s enough room for the Godfather to walk to the grill and that’s about it. I have: 2 zucchini plants, 1 pimiento pepper, 1 bell pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper, 1 shisito pepper, 1 German heirloom tomato, 3 basil plants, 1 mint (survived from last year), 1 chive plant (also survived from last year), 2 strawberry plants, 1 oregano, 1 thyme plant (no longer with us), and a tiny smattering of marigolds to try and naturally keep bugs at bay.
I finally have 1 tiny tomato on the plant and a few buds I hope drop fruit. The pimiento grew three peppers that never turned red, so I harvested early and I’m trying to get them to ripen on my counter (so far there’s a bit of red). The bell pepper grew the tiniest pepper I’d ever seen, which then started to ripen and turn red, so now I have a darling tiny red pepper to put into a salad or something. The jalapeno has grown a few peppers steadily (look for a killer chili recipe coming in the next few months courtesy of this plant), and my shisito pepper is ROCKING! I harvest new shisito peppers every few days, all beautiful and perfect and ready to be sauteed or, in this case, turned into a shisito tartar sauce.
Total side note: We are not even going to discuss my zucchini. I can’t, darlings. If it’s not aphids (battling those with a neem oil spray and some essential oils), it’s calcium deficiency (using a homemade spray), or hail. We had HAIL in July. In Virginia. If I get even 1 successful harvest out of my 2 (!!) plants, expect to see copious celebration on social media. Tips on growing this “easy” plant are also welcome. At this rate, I’m just growing peppers next year. I’m good at peppers and herbs.
But let’s talk about why grilled fish is a must for summer grilling season. First of all, there are many types of fish that hold up incredibly well on the grill – salmon and mahi mahi are two of my personal favorites – and they also happen to be on the “best choices” list for my state according to the Seafood Watch lists. Second, grilled fish is incredibly flavorful and low in calories while high in good for you fats and omega-3s. It also makes a beautiful pairing for those lovely summer white wines. 😉
We can’t forget about the shisito tartar sauce, because it really steals the show in this dish. For instance, my mother, who has always hated tartar sauce, really enjoyed this tartar sauce recipe. Unlike the sweetened thick sauces you find in jars at the store, homemade tartar sauce is less brazen, and compliments more than overpowers. I even used a little as a mock hollandaise sauce over scrambled eggs the next day and everyone loved it!
Shisito Tartar Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 112 g
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 15 ml
- 1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard, 7 g
- 3 g whole shisito peppers, about 15, stems and seeds removed
- 2 tbsp minced onion, 10 g
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp capers
- salt and pepper to taste
For the fish:
- 4-6 fillets mahi mahi or other firm white fish
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- In a small food processor, pulse together the tartar sauce ingredients until the pepper is finely chopped. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, then refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium heat, or use a grill pan over medium flame.
- Brush both sides of each fillet liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Grill the fish 3-4 minutes on the first side, then 2-3 minutes on the second until just cooked through.
- Top with sauce and serve immediately.