swordfish a la pardus
with summer squash carpaccio

August 19th, 2010 · 24 Comments

granted, not my best work with the new camera. but that night i was determined to eat hot food. an oft declared rarity for a food blogger. so instead of a well taken photo to entice you with, let me explain as best i can how to cook swordfish properly, as told to me by michael pardus, chef instructor at the culinary institute of america in hyde park.

you see, for me this is a big deal. for years swordfish had been low on my list of fish to eat, let alone cook. it was always kind of dry and uninteresting – flavorless if you will. and then michael cooked some up one evening and i was forever changed. it was moist, tender and flavorful which somehow in and of itself sounds a bit like an ad for cat food (and i do so wish i could have come up with better words) but believe me when i tell you, that these three words were never more true…

ok, the swordfish. the trick, the secret, the mystery – it’s a complete revelation. and here’s what you do.

you treat the swordfish as though you’re cooking a steak.

just start out with a piece of fish that’s at least an inch thick and let it sit in some olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever else you might be using such as herbs or lemon zest for about 15 minutes. get a good sear on both sides and then move the fish to an indirect heat source, either into the oven if you’re searing stovetop or to a part of the grill with no direct heat beneath it. let the fish cook until it’s about 5 minutes away from being done and take it off the heat and LET IT SIT as you would a ribeye. it will continue to cook, the juices will redistribute and it will be the best piece of swordfish you’ve ever eaten.

*cooks note – this piece of fish was less than an inch but my grill goes to 900 F so i was able to get the sear without overcooking. i think that within reason, the thicker the fish, the better. an inch and a half would be perfect. judging doneness is tricky unless you do it all the time, which i don’t so there’s always some anxiety involved. but if you can cook a steak properly you can do this as long as you know that the flesh of this fish is way more delicate and it will cook faster than a piece of beef.

so now you know.

this fish sat upon a bed of swiss chard simply sauteed with some olive oil and garlic, some salt and pepper – but let’s talk about the yellow squash for a moment shall we? it’s peaking nearly everywhere right about now and THIS is one of the things you must do with it. i got the idea from jennifer at last night’s dinner who got the idea from melissa clark who wrote about it in a magazine that’s going to have to remain nameless because if i typed the celeb’s name, my keyboard would explode in my face. ok?

anyway, jennifer described the dish as follows:

"It’s an extremely simple dish, ribbons of summer squash dressed with a drizzle of olive oil and a spritz of lemon juice, tossed with freshly grated parm and toasted pine nuts – just five simple ingredients, but they come together in perfect harmony. It’s particularly nice when you get a bite of everything together – the flavors and textures play really well together, with crunch and a slight bitterness from the pine nuts, the salty, pebbly parmesan, and the perky lemon dressing all jazzing up the mild, tender squash."

i highly recommend making this. it’s yet another example of the whole being so much greater than the sum of its parts. pine nuts are pricey right now but find them in bulk and just buy a handful. or splurge and just freeze the rest until you make this – again and again.

oh, and one last thing about the swordfish. if you happened to warm some olive oil in a small pan with some capers and anchovies and garlic and red chili flakes and lemon zest and parsley? perhaps even a chunked home fresh tomato from your garden thrown in there too? and drizzled that over the fish before serving?

it would be yum-O!


Tags: fish · vegetables

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