Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sicilian-Style Swordfish

Swordfish is not typically one of my favorite fish(es).  And yes, I know that fishes isn't a word, but I like it so I am going to use it.  Back to swordfish.  Generally it's too meaty and overcooked and dry.  When fully cooked it reminds me of a well-done steak (aka shoe leather).  Gross.  There is nothing good about that.  The key is to cook swordfish like a medium to medium-rare steak.  You want the outside to be nicely (and evenly) seared, but you want the middle to stay a little rare.  Otherwise you end up with a swordfish steak that is roughly the texture of an overcooked pork chop.  But I have wanted to make this dish ever since I saw a variation on it at Eataly.  I couldn't convince anyone to order it with me, but I had such order envy every time I saw someone else order it.  It was just so wonderfully golden-brown and it smelled so wonderful as they cooked it in the kitchen.  Granted, everything smelled wonderful while they cooked it.  We had the luck to sit at the counter so we could watch everything being cooked.  Man that made me hungry.  Since I couldn't get anyone to order the dish at Eataly with me, I decided to make it at home.  Luckily, Dave Pasternack had a similar recipe (or maybe the exact same recipe, but who really knows) in The Young Man & the Sea: Recipes & Crispy Fish Tales from Esca.  And yes, I checked to see if the recipe was in the cookbook the second I got home that day.

While most swordfish is kind of blah, this swordfish was very moist and tasty.  With just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on the swordfish, I loved it.  It was fantastic - bright and fresh, with the proper balance of meaty fish to acid to buttery breadcrumbs.  Don't forgo the fresh lemon juice or you will wonder what all the fuss is about.  And you should definitely take the time to make the Italian-Style Bread Crumbs.  They are worth the trouble because they give the swordfish great texture and flavor.  Plus when you make a batch of breadcrumbs you have enough to last you for a little while.  We can usually get at least two dishes out of each batch of bread crumbs and we only make half the recipe.  They are excellent with pasta or as a substitute for regular breadcrumbs in just about any Italian-ish recipe.  The breadcrumbs here helped to preserve the moisture of the swordfish while it cooked, as well as lending it more flavor and texture.  Be careful while cooking the fish because the breadcrumbs burn rather easily if the heat is up too high or if you're just not paying enough attention.  For the record, one side of our fish got a little toasty, but we saved it before it could actually char.  So just keep an eye out.  If you do manage to cook the swordfish without burning the breadcrumbs you will realize something I have known for awhile - Dave Pasternack is a brilliant man.

Recipes after the jump!

The Young Man & the Sea: Recipes & Crispy Fish Tales from Esca
By Dave Pasternack & Ed Levine

4 6-oz swordfish steaks, about 1 3/4-inch thick
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Italian-Style Bread Crumbs (see recipe below)
2 lemons, cut into wedges

Prepare a charcoal fire and heat the grill over it (or if you don't have a grill, heat a grill pan on the stove top over medium).

Dry the swordfish steaks with paper towels.  Brush them on both sides with evoo, season with s&p, then dredge in the bread crumbs.

Place the fish over the medium-hot part of the fire (or in the grill pan) and grill until the bread crumbs turn golden, no less than 5 minutes per side; if they begin to toast too quickly, move the fish to a cooler part of the grill (or turn down the heat).  The cooked swordfish should be golden brown and the flesh should begin to flake when you press it with your finger.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Italian-Style Bread Crumbs
The Young Man & the Sea: Recipes & Crispy Fish Tales from Esca
By Dave Pasternack & Ed Levine
1 loaf Italian bread
1 1/2 tbsp evoo
1 tsp garlic, finely diced
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Tear bread into roughly 2-inch chunks.  Place on a baking sheet.  Bake until the bread is dry and crunchy, about 15 minutes.  Put the chunks in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb.  Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp of the evoo in a small saute pan.  Add the garlic and stir until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the lemon zest and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Add the bread crumbs, parsley, and the remaining 1/2 tbsp evoo.  Stir well.  Season with s&p and remove from the heat.
Bread crumbs can be stored in a covered container until ready to use.

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