Jun 7, 2010

Swordfish steak recipe

Catania’s fish market is an incredible place, just around the corner from the city's cathedral. The stalls are scattered over an impressive area, under the Carlo V walled tunnel, the open Piazza Alonzo di Benedetto, stretching as far as Piazza Pardo. And although it's called a fish market, 'a piscarìa sells everything.

From 5 a.m. to about noon, the market is always crowded and busy. The overlapping voices of the vendors yelling at each ear–pushing their merchandise in front of your eyes baiting you to buy more, and clients bargaining prices, make you feel like you’ve been sucked into an Arabian souk.

During my sojurn in Catania, what I would go to the Pescheria looking for was, say, a ball of butcher’s twine; and I’d regularly leave with an abundance of fresh produce, herbs, dried fruits, amazing oranges, almonds, and huge swordfish steaks. So flabbergasted by the whole whirlwind of confusion, the assault on the senses with cacophony of sounds, rainbow of colors and assortment of smells, I hardly remember how that would happen.

Swordfish steaks must be eaten super fresh, grilled and cut about 1-inch thick. The slices need to be cooked with the skin intact, as this keeps the scaly flesh well compact. If you don’t want to barbecue, grill the steaks on a hot griddle or in a non-stick oven pan over the hot stove. Heat is key, but no oven please.

Ingredients for 4 guests:

4 swordfish steaks, 1-inch (2 cm) thick
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, torn
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Baste the swordfish with the mint leaves and garlic in olive oil and white wine vinegar, marinading them briefly before cooking.

Heat the cooking vessel over fierce heat (in this case induction stoves may be too mild) and cook the steaks either on a hot griddle or over the coals, turning them to brown on both sides. Occasionally baste with the marinade.

Cook the swordfish steaks until well seared on the outside, and still tender but not rare on the inside. Slit a small gash in the flesh to check for doneness.

Lightly salt, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve at once. Oh, and pass the peppermill, please.

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. 
Unless there are three other people. 
–– Orson Welles


  1. What fun! And swordfish? Mmmmm...

  2. lol. you gave me a chuckle there with the quote...love going to the market...and it has been far too long since i had swordfish...

  3. I remember Napoli's fish markets, but this sounds extraordinary. A lovely recipe. I have cooked shark (which has a similar consistency) in that manner.

  4. Cactus pears in the first photo? They're yummy. If that's not what they are, then what, exactly?

  5. i was planning swordfish for dinner tonight anyway and then read your post -- so am off now to the fishmonger with your recipe in hand -- grazie!!

  6. Ah, il mercato del pesce di Catania! Sì, ho vagato tra i fornitori.
    Mi ricordo anche di avere un caffè macchiato lì vicino in una tazza con il mio stato di Washington's Mount Rainier su di esso. La coincidenza è stata sorprendente.

  7. Saretta~ BUONISSIMOOOO!!!
    Brian~ Do your kids eat fish? Swordfish is so good for them.
    Joe~ I tried cooking shrak once (Palombo it's called here), but I' was uncomfortable eating it, somehow.
    Jim~ Yes! prickly Pears are Sicily's representative fruit!
    Amanda~ Let me know how dinner turned out.
    ChuckP~ Il tuo Italiano è sorprendente!! Bravo!

  8. Mouth watering, beautifully written and visually wonderful, as always!

    Missed you, too, darling Lola...but I'm back in bloggy land for the time being. Or at least my voice is back, because although I've been rather silent, I've been tiptoe-ing into your gorgeous pages for months and loving each and every post.

  9. What are the fruit at the top? Are they tasty?! I haven't spotted any of those here, yet...

  10. eleonora -

    dang! forgot the sesame seeds.....but otherwise the dish turned out great and was a huge success - delicioso!!!! mille grazie!!!

  11. Tessa~ Oh, it's so good to see you back here! Can I tempt you with some bread and olive oil?
    Stratusviatoris~ Prickly Pears, aka Cactus Pears. Here they are called Fico d'India (Indian fig), and as you can see from the handwritten sign, in Sicily the name is mangled into "ficurinia."
    Amanda~ the sesame is just for show, so no worries. I'm so happy you enjoyed it!! Brava

    Ciao and again thanks for your comments!

  12. Hi Lola!
    Your pictures look yummy.
    Sorry I haven't been around for a while, been very busy, too busy to cook also. But this will change this week!
    Also, I want to let you know that I’ve moved my blog, so to visit, just click on the link with this comment. Sorry for the bother, the story is on the blog, hope to see you soon!

  13. Mimi, I have to apologize for not visiting your blog lately, but I've been supebusy upgrading the website and following up on the marketing strategies. What a woman won't do for her love of food!
    I'll be right over to see the new blog!


  14. The meaty flavor of Swordfish, my palate enjoys!