Sword play at the grill

September 04, 1996|By Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman,UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE

Swordfish steaks -- ivory and fine-grained, meaty and juicy -- are the paragon of grilled food. Nothing is as easy to grill or as wondrous to eat. With a rich flavor somewhere between those of tuna and pork, and a just-chewy-enough texture, this is one fish that everyone loves.

Most recipes for swordfish are simple and Mediterranean in origin, involving grilling with expected but nevertheless welcome flavors, such as olive oil, lemon, garlic, vinegar, tomatoes and herbs. But swordfish responds equally well to Asian-style treatments, warming brilliantly to soy sauce, ginger and related seasonings.

Grilled stuffed swordfish

Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

1 1/4 pounds swordfish steak, no less than 1- 1/4 inch thick, skin removed

1 1/2 cups mesclun salad greens, washed and dried

1 teaspoon olive oil

In a glass measuring cup, whisk lime juice, wine, soy sauce, ginger, mustard, garlic, sesame oil and pepper. Pour all but 1/4 cup of marinade into a shallow dish, add swordfish and turn to coat well. (Set remaining marinade aside to be used to dress greens.) Cover and marinate fish in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. In a bowl, toss salad greens with reserved marinade and set aside.

Place swordfish on a cutting board. Holding a sharp, thin-bladed knife parallel to work surface, make a 1-inch incision halfway through the thickness of the steak. Insert knife almost to opposite edge of steak, then move it back and forth to create a large pocket. Leave a 1/2 -inch border around the edges, being careful not to cut through top, bottom or opposite edge of steak. Stuff pocket with greens. Rub steak with olive oil.

Grill over a hot fire until well-marked, about 6 minutes per side. Use a thin-bladed knife to peer into the flesh to check for doneness: When flesh is no longer translucent, remove from grill. Slice steak into 1/2 -inch-wide strips and serve.

Tip: You can just as easily cook swordfish steaks in the broiler or pan-grill them in a large nonstick skillet.

Per serving: 210 calories 29 g protein, 7 g fat (1.8 g saturated fat), 4 g carbohydrate; 650 mg sodium; 55 mg cholesterol; 0 g fiber.

Grilled swordfish with lemon dressing

Makes 4 servings

1 large clove garlic

2 10-ounce swordfish steaks, 1 inch thick

3 teaspoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill.

Cut garlic into thin slivers. Using the tip of a sharp knife, insert garlic slivers into one side of the swordfish steaks. Rub swordfish with 1 teaspoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary.

Grill steaks over a hot fire, placing garlic-studded side down first, for 5 minutes. Turn with a large spatula and grill for 4 to 5 minutes more. Use a thin-bladed knife to peer into flesh to check for doneness: when flesh is no longer translucent, swordfish is done. Remove from grill immediately. Cut steaks in half.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle lemon dressing over swordfish and serve.

Per serving: 205 calories, 28 grams protein, 9 grams fat (2.0 grams saturated fat), 1 gram carbohydrate; 125 mg sodium; 55 mg cholesterol; 0 grams fiber.

Crispy swordfish sandwiches

Makes 4 sandwiches

1/4 cup cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 8-ounce swordfish steaks, 1/2 inch thick, skin removed

2 teaspoons peanut oil

4 Kaiser rolls, split and toasted

2 1/2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 vine-ripened tomato, sliced

several fresh spinach or lettuce leaves

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine cornmeal and chili powder in a shallow dish. Set aside.

Holding a sharp knife parallel to the work surface, cut each swordfish steak in half horizontally.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Quickly dredge steaks in prepared cornmeal and transfer to skillet. Sear steaks until golden brown, about 1 minute. With a spatula, turn steaks over and transfer skillet to oven to finish cooking, 3 to 5 minutes, until flesh is no longer translucent.

Spread bottom half of toasted Kaiser rolls with a little mayonnaise. Add browned swordfish, top with a little more mayonnaise, followed by tomato slices and spinach or lettuce leaves. Place top half of Kaiser rolls on top and serve immediately.

Per serving: 370 calories, .29 grams protein, 11 grams fat (2.1 grams saturated fat), 40 grams carbohydrate; 500 mg sodium; 44 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fiber.

Pub Date: 9/04/96

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