What Is the Best Way to Cook Swordfish?

by A.J. Andrews

Tips

  • Grilling brings out the best in swordfish by making the most of its firm, meaty texture and complementing its mildly sweet flavor.

Swordfish: Beef Steak in Disguise

Swordfish and beef share so many qualities that you can use the same cooking methods for both. Thanks to swordfish's meatiness and firmness – and the fact you only find it in steak form – you get superb results from pan-frying, broiling and roasting, but one fundamental factor, taste, elevates one cooking method above the rest: grilling.

The meatiness of swordfish contrasts nicely with its mildly sweet flavor, which in turn contrasts nicely with the smoky, charred flavor grilling imparts. Its mild flavor and meatiness also opens swordfish up to the flavor infusion extended marinating provides. Unlike lighter fishes, you can marinate swordfish up to an hour without damaging the protein fibers. Swordfish has a moderate fat content – not nearly as much as, say, sea bass or tuna belly – so you want grill it just until it's cooked through, or 140F, to keep it from drying out (carryover cooking will bring it up to 145F).

Total Time: 30 minutes | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano, freshly chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon basil, freshly chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 thick (6- to 8-ounce) swordfish steaks

Directions:

  1. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, basil, shallot, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Pour the marinade in a shallow dish and lay the swordfish steaks in it.
  2. Turn the swordfish over to coat it. Marinate it at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, turning the steaks over halfway through.
  3. Heat the grill using a two-zone fire (the same as you would do for steak or hamburgers). Lay the swordfish on the grill.
  4. Grill the swordfish for 5 minutes. Turn the swordfish over and grill an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the steaks reach an internal temperature of 140F. Baste the swordfish steaks with the marinade a couple of times during cooking.  

Tips

  • If it isn't grilling season, you can get a similar, and just as tasty, crust on the stove with a hard sear. Marinate the swordfish in your favorite marinade for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Lat the swordfish steaks in the pan and sear them until they develop a rich, caramelized brown color, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the swordfish over and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until they reach 140F in the center.

About the Author

A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.