Thursday, September 14, 2006

Grilled Swordfish with Tomatillo Salsa Verde and Watermelon Radishes

Surreptitiously, today’s dinner came out so well, that I just had to write about it. As of 6pm, all I knew was that I had swordfish in the fridge. The deciding moment came when I bit into a little green tomato looking thing called tomatillo in the farmer’s market in Belmont.

I’ve seen them around before, but never tried one until today. When I asked the farmer what they were like, he told me to take a bite. I don’t know if tomatillos are always this good and I am worried that I’ve been ruined for life. I had to lean over the counter as the sweet juices started running down my hands. It was like a mix of tomato with kiwi – sweet in a refreshing sort of way. The dinner was decided. I marinated swordfish in jalapeño, lime, and garlic, and made a salsa out of tomatillos to go on top.

Since I was on a roll with new veggies, I made a salad out of watermelon radish that we got in our farm share. The newsletter said that it was a very spicy radish with a surprising pink belly (thus the watermelon name). Good thing I read the newsletter since the radish’s cream colored skin made me think it was a turnip. As all spicy radishes, it can be tamed by a few squirts of citrus or vinegar. I used lime to go with the swordfish and salsa verde. It came out with a nice crunch and a hint of sweetness and spice.

Grilled Swordfish with Tomatillo Salsa Verde and Watermelon Radishes

Fish substitutions: mahi-mahi (without skin), marlin (without skin), halibut steak (with skin), tuna (without skin) (if using tuna, leave it rare by cutting the cooking time in half). Other possible substitutions with skin are red snapper, striped bass, bluefish, barramundi, and salmon. If using those, skip the marinade, and rub the fish with salt, pepper, and a little oil right before grilling.

Serve 4

For Swordfish:
4 swordfish fillets without skin (6 oz each)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced (use less if you prefer it less spicy)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For Salsa Verde:
8 medium tomatillos, with paper-like husks removed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced (use less if you prefer it less spicy)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For Watermelon Radish Salad:
2 watermelon radishes, peeled
1 Tbsp lime juice
Salt to taste

1. Marinate Swordfish:
In a medium pyrex dish, combine lime juice, garlic, jalapeño, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork. Add swordfish and turn to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes to 2 hours.

2. Make Salsa Verde:
Quarter tomatillos. In a bowl of a food processor, combine tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, and lime juice. Process until chopped into tiny pieces. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Move to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

3. Make Radish Salad:
Slice radishes into very thin slices (1/16 of an inch) using a mandolin or an adjustable blade slicer. You can also grate the radish with a food processor. Mix with lime juice and generous amount of salt.

4. Grill Swordfish:

Preheat the grill to high.

Remove swordfish from the marinade and dry on paper towels. If substituting fish that doesn’t need a marinade, season heavily with salt and pepper on both sides, and coat with 1 Tbsp of oil.

Dip a wad of paper towels into oil, pick it up with tongs, and brush the grill.

Place fish on the grill (skin side down if substituting fish with skin) and cover. Grill for 8 minutes per inch of thickness, turning half way through cooking time. To test for doneness, make a small cut and peek inside. Fish is done when a trace of translucency still remains in the center. For more info, see tips on how to grill fish.

Divide radish salad among 4 plates, top with fish, and salsa verde.


Kalyn Denny said...

Helen, your photos are looking very snazzy too. My camera is a Canon Rebel EOS Digital XT. From what I know about cameras, I think it's kind of the Canon version of your new camera. Isn't it fun to have a good camera?

Now I just need to get one of those food blog chips for my computer and I'll be all set!

The swordfish looks amazing. I actually grew tomatillos in my garden a few times, but the last few years I haven't seen plants for sale. But I'm saving this recipe for an idea of how to use them.

Crystal said...

Thanks for the beet tips. I hope we get a few more in our crop share so we can try again.

That swordfish looks great. I've never made swordfish, but have had it out at restaurants. Great idea -I love tomatillos!


Anonymous said...

I just want to say I've really been enjoying this Blog since stumbling onto it a few weeks ago. It's funny timing wise too, because right before I found this, I finally found a place here, I live in Tennessee, that sells whole fish! Until now, all I could find was a place that sold whole Tilapia, and an occasional red snapper. I don't know a great deal about cooking, I'm a bacholer, but I'm learning and trying anyhow, and I'm very interested in cooking fish especially, and too find it tastes so much better cooked whole.
Anyhow, this place I found is an international market with all kinds of interesting stuff in it beyond fish too. But they have several kinds of whole fish, and even some live fish. Plus several kinds of exotic frozen whole fish, which I haven't tried any of that yet, but over time I plan on trying a lot of different stuff. This blog made me laugh too because this place sells whole Bluefish, after reading what you said about it, I tried it, and liked it. I like most all fish, but tend to go for the stronger tasting oily type fish. I tried some White Pomfret there last week, wondering if you ever tried it? Really good tasting fish, and smallish, so I steamed it. Came out well. I tried some other fish too, and I don't know what it was, it was oily, sort of Bluefish/Mackeral like, but smaller than both, the sides of it were sort of spiny in the middle of the body as it got closer to the tail. The reason I don't know what it is the only "bad" thing about this place is they don't speak much English here, the fish guys don't anyhow, and they only understand a little. So it makes telling them what you want done to the fish "interesting". Like this "mystery fish" they cut the head off when they cleaned it, which I didn't want, but oh well, they do a good job of cleaning them for the customers. But it wasn't labeled, and I couldn't understand what they told me it was, only what it costs, it wasn't high, 3.99 a pound. It tasted good, so that's the bottom line. Also, I'm curious of your opinion on Tilapia, if you have any. I think it gets a bit of a bad rap myself, I've had good luck cooking them whole, but it is mild flavored for sure.
Anyhow, I've rambled too long I know, just wanted to say I really enjoy your site here, keep up the great work!

Helen said...

Hi Anonymous,

Glad you are enjoying my blog :) Wow, you can get pomfret! That's great. I haven't seen it in our markets and I hear it's really good from my friend in Singapore (she steams it too). Not sure what the little fish are. Sardines are smaller than mackerel and also dark fleshed. Maybe it's them?

By the way, I am so proud of you for trying fish you don't know the names of. It always saddens me when people won't consider try a fish with unfamiliar name. It's such a problem with American consumers that the fish industry tries to name all the unfamiliar fish with familiar names. Chilean sea bass is not a bass, and black cod is not a cod either. But if we call them bass and cod, all of a suddent, they are the new trendy fish.

About tilapia... I've never had it whole, but I am not crazy about fillets. It's not bad, just kind of flat tasting (not big and flavorful like bluefish, but not clean and pure tasting like halibut either). I still prefer it to a chicken breast any time, but since bluefish, trout, arctic char, and mahi are always available and cheaper, I usually get them. It's really a matter of taste -- hey, some people hate bluefish ;)


Anonymous said...

Yeah, If you ever do see Pomfret, be all means try it. Really good little fish.
I don't think the "mystery fish" was Sardines, though I freely admit I've never seen fresh Sardines, Heck I knew nothing of Pomfret till a few weeks ago. But this fish cost me 3.72$ whole, and it was 3.99$ a pound, so it weighed in at just under a pound whole with the head on it and the guts in it. It's about the size of a Croaker, or a Piny Porgy. In fact, I meant to try the Porgy that day originally, but they looked kinda old, and the "Mystery fish" was super fresh, so I went with it. I mean you can just tell when a fish is fresh.
It's funny you mention Tomatillos too, I "discovered" them several months back. Love the tangy flavor of them. Have you ever tried Chayote squash? I really like them a lot too. I cut them in half, sprinkle some cajun seasoning on them, and nuke them for 10 minutes. Great side dish. Like I said, I'm not advanced as a cook at all, but I'll try stuff.
This place has lots of other stuff too like Squid, Cuttlefish, live blue crabs, mussels, clams, crayfish, and even stuff like chicken feet and duck feet, and employs a butcher, but not great English like I said.
They sell whole Ducks there too, so I may get brave and try to bake one up one of these weeks, or maybe for Thanksgiving, and I do want to try to steam some Mussels, from what I've read that doesn't sound too hard. Live Blue crabs, that sounds harder to me.
You have me curious about Eggplant too, I've been served it deep fried and breaded a few times, It never did a lot for me. But, I may try an easy way to bake it or something if I can find a recipe that's simple. This place has all kinds of produce I've never heard of too, so all kinds of stuff for me to try over time. They have some small Eggplant too, called "Indian Eggplant" or something like that. Is there a difference other than the size?

Helen said...


Hi there again. Mussels are really easy and fun, here is a recipe I usually use.

Not sure what Indian eggplant is like. I've seen them around, but haven't tried them. Italian eggplants are smaller than the usual American ones, but very similar in flavor. Japanese eggplants (long, skinny, and light purple) are quite different -- milder and more watery. Let me know how those Indian eggplants are if you try them. I wouldn't bake an eggplant though. They have way too much water for indirect heat and do better grilled, broiled, or pan fried. I don't like breading and deep frying them either. You mostly taste the breading and the eggplant itself never gets a chance to caramelize. I have recently posted a Honey Garlic Grilled Eggplant. It's really easy. If you don't have a grill, dry the slices off on paper towel after marinading and pan fry in canola oil.

Have fun cooking :)