Back in the early ’80’s my little sister, Pamela, and I spent a summer in the Abaco islands crewing on a charter sailboat. I was the cook and she was…well, just there. We don’t recall how much we were paid but we do remember we both returned stateside with negative bank balances and we hadn’t even spent any money. Talk about cheap labor. Then again, we were young and didn’t know any better. How our parents let us go I will NEVER know. When not out on charters the sailboat was docked in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco and life was pretty quiet. Back then there were no such things as jet skis; nightclubs and casinos had not yet been introduced to the outer Bahamian islands. Life was pretty quiet. Our days were supposed to have been spent checking the bilge, washing the boat and cleaning the gelcoat and cleaning then varnishing all teak trim. Being by ourselves, completely unsupervised, we preferred to sleep until 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, drink some coffee then, barefoot or in flip-flops, bicycle into town to replenish our private alcohol supply we may have drained the previous night, followed by a short ride to a tourist shop where we could read all the fashion magazines we couldn’t afford like Vogue, Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar AND read them standing in air-conditioned comfort. Of all our responsibilities the only one we ever did was check the bilge, which we hated. Pamela and I alternated checking every three or four days as it smelled vile…VILE. That chore was definitely on the “gag me” list. But we did it and then rode off to some beach we had heard about with towels and plastic tumblers filled with vodka tonics in hand. It was a splendid and easy summer although you could not have convinced us of that at the time. Charters were easy, non-demanding and we met some delightful people. Typically we dropped anchor at about 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon and motored in a zodiac to shore to supplement dinner. We may have picked up some fresh vegetables or salad to go with the fish just caught by our guests that afternoon. We usually bought local, tropical fruit for breakfast and we always, always bought homemade Key Lime Pie from local ladies at open-air markets. The following is a recipe given to me by a woman whose husband dropped anchor at Green Turtle Cay. It’s brilliant!
This is such a gloriously easy and delicious recipe! I know it sounds kind of strange but think about it. Bananas bake into a kind of sweet/salty taste when they are cooked. And mayonnaise is nothing but lemon juice, vegetable oil, a drop of mustard, vinegar and an egg yolk so when it hits heat, it evolves into a sunshine, lemony treat. Dolphin baked with banana is sweet-salty heaven. It makes me happy just thinking about it. But back to the recipe. Use your hands to squish the bananas. A fork or potato masher will make the consistency too liquid and the banana mixture will slide off of the filets while baking. A good full-fat mayonnaise must be used. Now is not the time for a cheap, store brand or reduced fat product. And keep in mind, not much mayo is called for. And that’s it. Use bananas that are ripe but not rotten. We love the dish with roasted, lightly salted pistachios on top but they can easily be left off. This recipe doubles and even triples well. Enjoy!
Green Turtle Cay Dolphin Baked with Banana and Pineapple
- 2 3/4″ slices of fresh pineapple, trimmed and cored, each side rubbed with a little olive oil
- 2 medium sized, ripe bananas
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 6-ounce dolphin filets, skinned
- 2 tablespoons roasted, lightly salted pistachios, roughly chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 400°.
- Over medium-high heat, brown both sides of each pineapple slice on a grill pan or skillet. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, squeeze the bananas using your hands. You want large chunks, not a sauce.
- Mix the mayonnaise, thyme and salt into the bananas.
- Cover baking dish with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray and place the pineapple slices side by side.
- Top pineapple slices with the fish filets, divide evenly and smooth the banana mixture on top.
- Sprinkle fish with pistachios and bake for 20 minutes or until banana mixture is golden and bubbly.
- Serve immediately.