Blackened Swordfish with Fruit Salsa

This week, I want to stay on the spicy side and thought I would go with something blackened, There many ways to prepare swordfish, which, unlike cod or bass or a lot of other flaky fish, is much denser like Ahi. Swordfish can be grilled with herb butter, grilled with a fruit salsa, grilled for a sandwich with sesame-fennel coleslaw, glazed with teriyaki and, of course, blackened. Choosing a favorite is hard. I’m going to combine two of the above and serve the blackened swordfish with the fruit salsa.

The fruit salsa goes great with anything blackened. It also goes great with plain grilled fish or chicken.

There are a few ideas of the proper way to blacken swordfish. A lot of chefs like to only place the spice mixture on one side and use two pans to cook the fish. The blackening of the spice side happens in the cast-iron pan and then the fish is flipped and transferred into a non-stick pan. This will limit the crust buildup to one side so the other is still moist and soft. Also, when you flip the swordfish steak over in the same pan, it is possible that there will be crust buildup from the first side, which will create an uneven heat source. So the second side has a few colder spots in the pan and the crust will not be as evenly cooked.

I like to blacken both sides. If there are some built-up crusty spots when I flip the fish, I will use a fork and gently pop the crust off or quickly wipe out the bottom of the pan with an old, clean rag.

So, what about doing a blackened swordfish on the grill? Can it be done or is it a must that you do it in a cast-iron pan?

 

On the grill

Of course, you can grill it. It won’t be exactly the same because it is tough to get the same kind of searing over a fire, but it will still be pretty tasty. You might have to do a good cleaning of your grill afterwards, though.

Put the grill grate down to the lowest level to get it as hot as possible and then bump it up one notch. Use an oil rag and give the grate a quick wipe, then place the fish down. You don’t want the fire to flame. If it does, move the fish steak over a little and finish the first side.

Flip it over onto a clean spot if possible, but try to keep it over the hot part of the charcoal. The idea is for the outside to be seared black with the inside becoming medium-rare to medium. The fish is done when you push on it and it breaks apart along the layers, almost like a flaky fish would, but without the full break.

The fruit salsa goes great with anything blackened. It also goes great with plain grilled fish or chicken. Because the recipe is for more than you will need for your fish, there will be enough left over to use as a chip dip. You won’t be disappointed with the leftovers; you might find yourself having a little bowl of it by itself.

The blackening spices are pretty basic and easy to put together if you don’t buy a pre-mix batch. Whether you blacken your swordfish in a cast-iron pan or on the grill, try it out with or without the salsa. Enjoy.

Blackened Swordfish

Blackening spices
1 T thyme
1 T oregano
1 T basil (I add this for the sweetness of the basil; it is not usually in a blackening spice)
1½ t cayenne pepper
1 t white pepper
1 t paprika
1 T oil

Combine all the spices in a bowl. Lightly brush the swordfish with the oil and then generously coat the fish steak. Get the pan extremely hot and be sure to turn on your fan if you have one because it will smoke wicked bad at first. Sear well and give the pan a quick wipe with a clean rag before flipping the fish. You can put a little pat of butter on top of the fish once it’s flipped if you want the crust to be a little less crusty and moister.

Fruit Salsa
1 C pineapple, diced
1 C cantaloupe, diced
1 C Crenshaw or other melon, diced
1 C mandarin orange segments, halved
2 plums, diced
3 limes for juice
½ red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos , diced
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
3-4 T rice wine vinegar (to taste)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2-4 dashes hot sauce (your favorite sauce, to taste)
Small pinch of salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together adding the garlic, lime, vinegar and hot sauce to taste. You do want some bite from the vinegar, so don’t be afraid to add a little more to taste.


 

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Chef Smitty
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. Smitty has been teaching skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for more than 26 years each winter, and spends his summers working for High Sierra Waterski School since 2000. Smitty has been writing his chef column for Tahoe Weekly since 2005.