Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Swordfish Provençal

I know what you are thinking -- Helen hasn't cooked fish for ages. I admit that I've been bad about posting fish recipes lately, but that's not for lack of cooking. In fact, I've made 7 fish dishes in the past 4 days. Don't worry, I am not eating fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am just in the middle of a very busy cooking class semester. The unfortunate thing is that it's hard to teach a cooking class and take mouth watering pictures. The lighting in these places is not great. Besides, I don't want to freak my students out by taking pictures of everything I cook. They think I am pretty geeky about food as it is. Luckily, I just found a picture of Swordfish Provençal that I took couple of months ago. This isn't the most photogenic dish even under the best conditions, but it is usually my students' favorite. Try it -- you'll like it :)

The secret to swordfish: Swordfish is such a dense fish that it needs a good oily marinade to make it tender. Traditional marinade for this dish is just lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. But once I tried Thai Ginger Marinade from Whole Foods (sold in the fish section), I just can't make swordfish without it. That stuff does wonders to dense fish. If your Whole Foods doesn't carry it, there is a recipe for it in the end of my Grilled Tuna.

Substitues: Marlin and Mahi-mahi will taste closest to swordfish, but almost any delicate or firm white fish works with this awesome tomato sauce. Less dense fish like cod, halibut, and striped bass will not need a marinade. Just season with salt and pepper, rub with oil and broil for 8 minutes per inch of thickness.

Sides: Boiled potatoes and plenty of good bread for dipping in the sauce

Serves 4

For the swordfish:
1.5 Lb swordfish steak without skin
6 Tbsp olive oil (or 3 Tbsp olive oil + 3 Tbsp Thai Ginger Marinade)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
28 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp butter, softened (optional)

Marinate swordfish (30 minutes to 2 hours before serving):

  1. In a pyrex dish, mix together lemon juice, olive oil, Thai Ginger Marindade (if using), salt and black pepper to taste.
  2. Cut swordfish into 8 pieces and add to the marinate. Turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

The Sauce (can be done in advance and reheated):

  1. Sauté onions in oil with a generous pinch of salt on med-low heat until soft and golden (8-10 minutes).
  2. Add tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, and white wine. Stir. Cover and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley.

Broil Swordfish:

  1. Preheat the oven to broil and wrap a broiler pan with foil.
  2. Remove sworfish from the marinade, but don't dry it. Place it in the broiler pan and broil 4 inches away from the flame for 4 minutes. Flip, and broil 4 more minutes. To test for doneness, cut into one piece with a fork (swordfish is dense, so you have to be assertive). If only a trace of translucency remains, swordfish is done.
  3. (Optional) If you used Thai Ginger marinade, add 2 Tbsp of it into your sauce, and bring the sauce to a boil to kill any possible bacteria in the marinade. This will give your sauce great intensity. Another option for finishing the sauce is to stir in 1 Tbsp of butter right before serving. This will tame the accidity and produce a milder, silkier sauce.
  4. Place 2 pieces of swordfish on each plate and top with sauce.


Anonymous said...

I served this dish to some fish loving guests at a dinner party. Quite brave I thought as I hadn't tried the recipe before! The comments I received were music to any cooks ear. Comments such as - "This is the best tasting swordfish I have ever had" and "Wow! this is wonderfully tender and so succulent" and "Sarah, you are an amazing cook", which is definitely an overstatement but I gladly accepted the compliment! I just followed the recipe to the letter and it turned out beautifully. Thanks Helen.

Sarah Hartley

Anonymous said...

Hi Helen,
Do you this this sauce would go okay with Halibut?


Helen said...

Of course it would go with halibut :) it even goes with chicken and shrimp.