The Tyrrhenian Sea off the Calabrian coast is chock full of the majestic swordfish (pesce spada) that migrate through this region in late spring and early summer on their way south to the Strait of Messina. The town of Bagnara hosts an annual swordfish festival to celebrate the year’s catch as swordfish is served in traditional Calabrian preparations from simply grilled to mixed with pasta to steamed as in the preparation below which is common in this seaside town.
In reading through my journal from my visit to Calabria, I counted having swordfish at least 4 times in our short visit to this beautiful region. The succulent taste of a fresh swordfish steak simply steamed or grilled is unparalleled. In Italy, the swordfish steaks are typically sliced more thinly than they are in America. I ask our fishmonger to slice the steaks in half if they are too thick as I think the thinner preparation allows for the delicate texture of the fish to shine through.
This dish is a very quick preparation and is ready in less than 15 minutes. I was thrilled to find fresh swordfish at our local market recently and this delicate preparation was the perfect complement to the fish. Uncork a bottle of crisp white, put some fishing songs on the ipod and enjoy!
Garlicky Swordfish Calabrian Style
- 4 fresh swordfish steaks with skin on (about 2 pounds)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
- 3 cloves of garlic, diced or thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons of capers (rinsed if packed in salt; drained if using from a jar)
- ½ lemon, thinly sliced plus lemon juice from the other half of the lemon
- Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 baking dish large enough to hold the swordfish steaks
- 1 larger roasting pan that will hold the baking dish with the swordfish steaks
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Season the swordfish with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.
- Add the olive oil to the baking dish. Place the swordfish in the dish and turn to coat.
- Scatter the garlic and capers around the swordfish. Place the lemon slices atop the swordfish. Squeeze the lemon juice from half of the lemon on top.
- Fill the roasting pan with water up to about 1” up the sides. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop burners and turn heat to high until the water boils. (Alternatively, you can boil water in tea kettle or pot and pour into the pan.)
- Carefully set the baking dish with the swordfish into the roasting pan. Cover the roasting pan with foil, sealing around the sides. Carefully place in the oven.
- Bake until the swordfish is cooked through, about 10 minutes depending on the thickness. Remove from the oven and remove the foil. Taste the broth and add additional salt if necessary. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.
- Serve the fish in a warm serving bowl. Spoon the yummy garlicky broth over top and serve with nice crusty bread.