Food & Drink

Celebrate swordfish with sauce and avocado salsa

Applaud the swordfish renaissance with Marinated Swordfish With Avocado Salsa.
Applaud the swordfish renaissance with Marinated Swordfish With Avocado Salsa. WASHINGTON POST

Swordfish is abundant again in American waters and given the green light (depending on how it’s caught) by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. It’s easy to cook right; and, cooked right, it’s moist and tender.

The key to keeping swordfish moist is to start with a slice that’s 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Start with a slab that looks like a porterhouse steak, and you could end up with fish that’s dry and cottony. Because swordfish doesn’t show to advantage when it’s “rare,” a thinner slice makes it a cinch to sear the outside and cook the inside to perfection.

Marinated Swordfish With Avocado Salsa

The fish needs to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. The salsa can be assembled (without the avocado), covered and refrigerated a few hours in advance; bring to room temperature before serving.

Grated zest and juice from 2 lemons (1 1/2 teaspoons zest and 5 teaspoons juice)

Finely grated zest and juice from 1 large orange (1 1/3 teaspoons zest and 1/4 cup juice)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems (save the leaves for the salsa)

Sliver of jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/8 teaspoon honey (or pinch of sugar)

Pinch ground cayenne pepper

4 slices swordfish, each about 5 ounces and 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick

1 tablespoon canola oil, or more as needed


1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes

1/2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 cup (not packed) chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped red onion, rinsed in cold water and patted dry

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Pinch black pepper and cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Flesh of 1 large, firm but ripe avocado, cut into small cubes

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, extra-virgin olive oil, green onions, cilantro stems, jalapeno, sea salt, honey and cayenne pepper in a gallon-size zip-top bag (or nonreactive baking dish). Add the swordfish and seal the bag, pressing out air. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, turning over from time to time, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.

Salsa: Combine the tomatoes, red bell pepper, cilantro, red onion, mint, sea salt, black and cayenne peppers, and the extra-virgin olive oil in a mixing bowl, tossing gently to incorporate.

Remove the fish from the marinade. Transfer the marinade to a small saucepan. Use paper towels to gently pat the fish dry.

Working in a large skillet (nonstick is good here) over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil; once it shimmers, add the swordfish. If your skillet isn’t large enough to hold the 4 pieces, cook the fish in two batches, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Cook for 3 minutes, then carefully turn the fish and cook about 2 minutes or until the flesh is opaque. Transfer to a platter.

Bring the marinade to a boil over high heat; cook for about 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Spoon some over each piece of fish, and pour the rest into a pitcher to be passed at the table.

Add the avocado and lemon juice to the salsa and toss. Spoon some salsa on top of each piece of fish and serve with leftover salsa and sauce on the side.

Per serving: 410 calories, 30 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 29 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 660 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

Yield: 4 servings.