From frying it, grilling it to cooking it in the oven
Swordfish is a firm fish and therefore ideally suited for grilling on the barbecue. But in you can, of course, also cook it in the pan and oven.
But what exactly is swordfish and how can you best cook it? We’ll go into that in more detail below.
What kind of fish is swordfish?
The swordfish is a very strong and meaty fish belonging to the bass family. In terms of appearance, it is unmistakably recognizable by its grey-blue back, an almost white belly and of course its special upper jaw.
This upper jaw is extremely long and shaped like a sword. It uses its jaw to injure its prey, to defend itself and to reduce hydrodynamic resistance while swimming.
Therefore, the swordfish is a very fast and streamlined predatory fish. It also has a high dorsal fin and a long anal fin, both of which are sickle-shaped. It can grow over 4.5 meters long and weigh about 600 kg.
Where does swordfish come from?
There is only one species of swordfish left in the world. This is a saltwater fish that feels most comfortable in a temperate climate where there are clear seasonal differences, but where the temperature differences per season are not too different.
This is why the swordfish is most commonly found in the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. There, it swims solitary at a depth of 0 to 800 meters below the water surface.
Swordfish is usually supplied from Spain or Portugal. It is available all year round, but in the months of November to February it is in its spawning season. It may be available, but it is wiser to leave the fish alone during these times.
How does the fish taste?
Because the swordfish is so large, it also has large bones that are easy to recognize and can therefore be avoided in an instant. The large pieces that you can usually buy ready-made are therefore boneless and immediately ready for use.
Because this predatory fish with a spicy personality moves a lot, the meat has a very firm structure. As a result, the meat also has a very unique taste that can best be compared to the taste of tender veal.
Is swordfish healthy?
Generally, eating fish is very healthy. It contains more unsaturated fats than meat. An oily fish such as swordfish also contains vitamin D. This contributes to a good resistance, optimal functioning of your muscles and keeping bones and teeth strong.
Because swordfish is a saltwater and predatory fish, it is wise not to eat this fish every week. It contains proportionally more salt than freshwater fish. Because its diet consists of other fish, the amount of mercury in the swordfish is also higher.
Mercury occurs in nature through pollution. As a result, each fish ingests a small amount of mercury. Of all the bits of mercury that are in its food, a part also remains in its own flesh, so that it contains more mercury than non-predatory fish.
For small children, pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant, it is not recommended to eat predatory fish.
Which wine pairs well with the fish?
Because swordfish is a very firm fish, you don’t have to limit yourself to the white wines that normally go with fish. In combination with Mediterranean by-products such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, olives and capers, a smooth light red wine also completes this dish perfectly.
If you’re opting for a dish with raw swordfish, you can prevent a metallic taste by choosing a wine that is dry and does not contain too much tannin. Examples of such wines are a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir.
How to cook swordfish?
Swordfish is a very versatile fish that lends itself very well to different recipes. It is particularly tasty when it’s raw in a sashimi, but this fairly fatty fish is also the ideal choice to cook on the barbecue or on the grill.
Before you start cooking the swordfish, make sure that the fish is at room temperature and that the herbs and possibly a sauce have already been cooked.
Swordfish really is a hearty meal in itself. It is therefore wise to eat light dishes with the fish. Think, for example, of swordfish with grilled potatoes and a fresh summer salad.
Usually, you buy swordfish in ready-made pieces and you don’t have to clean them anymore. If you intend to use a whole fish, you can first remove all the organs carefully.
At maturity the swordfish loses all its scales but it is wise to always check to make sure your fish is old enough or if you still need to remove the scales.
Then rinse the fish well and pat it dry with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper.
Frying it in a pan
- One of the ways to cook swordfish is to fry it in a pan. For this, you should rather use fillets rather than steaks because otherwise a steak will be cooked less evenly.
- After you have provided the swordfish with herbs, make sure that the pan is hot.
- Then melt a knob of butter in the pan and add a small dash of olive oil.
- When the butter/oil mix is hot, place the swordfish in it and fry it for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. If you like medium rare fish, stick to 2 minutes per side. Note that if you bake the swordfish too long, it will become tough and dry.
In the oven
- Swordfish in the oven should also be marinated for some time in advance to prevent the fish from drying out and to add extra flavor.
- The oven should be preheated in advance to about 225 degrees Celsius, after which the fish can be placed in an oven dish in the oven. How long the swordfish needs to be in the oven depends strongly on the thickness of the fish. You have an oven time of 10 to 20 minutes for a fillet, while a steak takes 20 to 25 minutes to cook in the oven. In any case, always keep an eye on the core temperature of the fish, which should be around 52 degrees Celsius for a medium-rare result.
Grilling on the barbecue
The swordfish is a fairly oily fish, making it the perfect choice for cooking on the barbecue or grill. Unlike many other types of fish, the swordfish steak does not fall apart easily and is therefore easy to cook and serve.
- Before cooking it, first of all, make sure that the swordfish steak has been marinated for quite some time and that the barbecue or grill is hot.
- If you like fish cooked medium rare, fry it with regular turning for a maximum of 2 minutes per side.
- The core temperature of the swordfish should then be around 52 degrees Celsius. With each turn, be sure to brush the fish with the marinade again.
Recipe: Grilled swordfish steaks with salsa verde
Grilled swordfish steaks with salsa verde
- 2 swordfish steaks 175 to 225 gr
- olive oil
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 5 sprigs parsley finely chopped
- 2 sprigs mint finely chopped
- 10 capers finely chopped
- 1 anchovy fillet finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 90 ml olive oil extra virgin
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly grounded
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes optional
- Place all the ingredients for the salsa verde in a food processor. Grind everything, but not too fine. It may stay a bit coarse.
- Put the salsa verde in a bowl, cover it with aluminium foil and let it rest for half an hour.
- Prepare the barbecue for direct grilling. Maintain a temperature of about 220°C.
- Rub both sides of the swordfish fillets with olive oil. Then sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
- Cover kitchen paper with olive oil and rub it on the barbecue grill. Place the swordfish steaks on the barbecue and grill for 3 minutes on both sides. Turn the steaks a quarter after 1.5 minutes to get a lovely diamond pattern.
- Prepare the barbecue for indirect grilling and cook the swordfish for about 3 minutes until it has reached a core temperature of 55°C.
- Place the steaks on a plate and spread some of the salsa verde over them.
Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with halibut. Or check our fish recipes for even more inspiration.