Swordfish with lemon-oregano bath (Pesce spada al salmoriglio)

This is a classic Sicilian dish that is perfect for the summer. It’s adapted from Evan Kleiman’s 1993 cookbook “Cucina del Mare” which remains a go-to source of Italian seafood recipes.

A lot of people are scared to grill fish because of its potential to stick. This problem can be nearly eliminated with a really hot grill and oiling the grill right before placing down the fish.

You can use this recipe with other firm fish such as tuna or mahi-mahi. Serve a 6 ounce piece of fish per person along with a nice tomato and onion usalad (shown).

Ingredients and Directions:

For the salmorigio sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 hot water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon of dried oregano or 3-4 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves stripped from stems

For the fish:

  • 6-ounce pieces of swordfish, 1/2-inch thick – 1 per person
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil for grilling
  • Lemon wedges (if desired)

Heat the outdoor grill until VERY hot. This is key to avoid the fish from sticking. You can alternatively cook the fish under a broiler but you won’t get the nice grill marks.

Make the salmoriglio shortly before placing the swordfish on the grill. Pour the olive oil into a small bowl. With a wisk, pour the hot water into the oil and vigorously whisk to emulsify the oil and water together. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk again to blend.

Sprinkle the swordfish with salt and pepper on both sides. Now here’s the trick!! Pour a little olive oil on a papertowl or old clean rag and let it soak in. With a long pair of tongs, pick up the oil soaked rag and rub the grill grates to coat with olive oil. You’ll get a little flare up but it will subside quickly.

Place the swordfish on the prepared grill and cook for about 2 minutes per side. RESIST the urge to check the fish because the fish will release from the grill when it’s ready and not before. Flip over using a very thin slotted metal spatula (a fish flipper!).

When the fish is done, place in a shallow platter or Pyrex dish and pour the salmoriglio bath over the fish. Let it sit in the marinate for about 5 minutes. Remove the swordfish from the bath and place on plates. Spoon a little of the salmoriglio bath over the fish and serve.

Join the Conversation

  1. I had swordfish for the first time while vacationing on Topsail Island, N.C. this summer. Loved it. Have meant to buy some fresh from the fish counter and make my own.

  2. Looks incredible. Great grill marks on the fish. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Grazie for the comment, Griffinsgrub!

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