The swordfish meat has a very delicate flavor, a meaty texture, and a mildly sweet flavor. Swordfish, also known as broadbills, is an oily fish with fatty acids similar to bluefin tuna, with chunky meat without bones. Find out if the swordfish is fresh, what cuts to buy, and how to cook them.
I grew up spending summers in the South of Italy, where the local fishermen catch swordfish, so I am used to eating fresh fish.
Being conscious of the endangerment of this species, I only buy it when I know it has been caught locally by professional fishermen.
I can fully appreciate the freshest seafood and make the most of swordfish meat.
I will not buy it if it has been frozen, and this is how I recognize fresh swordfish.
How to know if the Swordfish meat is fresh
There are 4 signs to recognize if a swordfish is fresh:
- The Eyes: Look at the eye; you will see a white ball fallen deep inside the eye. This is a sign that it is fresh. When frozen, the white ball surfaces on the top
- The Gills: They should be light pink in color. Color variations of the gills mean that the fish has been struggling and suffering, for example, if caught using hand lines and left there for 2 days
- The Skin: If fresh, the skin will discolor when in contact with the table's metal.
- The Blood: Once the fish has been cleaned and cut into pieces, fresh blood will be left on the table.
Best swordfish recipes for each cut of meat
The swordfish is usually cut into three main parts:
- The tail: The tail is cut into wheels, weighing about 4 lb - 2 kg each, and has a meat-like texture. I prefer to cook it in the oven, it is easy to prepare and very practical for dinner parties - each wheel feeds at least eight people! Baked Swordfish Wheel: To keep the meat moist, the wheel is cooked in the oven but covered with aluminum foil and at bain-marie (the pan is immersed in water). You will have beautiful juices from the fish, and you can serve them with potatoes or rice that will absorb the flavor.
- The stomach is moister, with a slightly sweet taste. It is cut into sword steak and grilled or barbecued. I prefer to cook it in the oven covered with breadcrumbs. Grilling tends to dry it too much, while the breadcrumbs help retain moisture. Swordfish steak in the oven Swordfish braciolette:
- Neck and top fin: The neck and top fin are not clean cuts, therefore, contain many cartilages; however, the meat is full of flavor as it has more fat in between. It is half the steak cost and perfect for making a swordfish ragu. I gently stir fry it until the meat separates easily from the bones, and use it to make: Pasta with Swordfish ragu
Swordfish side dishes
When swordfish meat is fresh, I like to serve it with a simple, fresh salad seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and lemon.
Other simple side dishes you can serve are an Italian potato salad with parsley lemon juice and olive oil, grilled summer vegetables salad, Italian baked ratatouille or a French Tabbouleh.
Swordfish fishing methods
It is a very popular dish worldwide, often sold as steaks, usually grilled.
This meaty fish without bones is a healthy delicacy that non-fish eaters love.
Unfortunately, like tuna, it has been overfished with illegal mesh nets, resulting in several restrictions being put in place over the past years to preserve fish stocks worldwide. If you want to know more about this fish, you can read a very detailed article on Wikipedia.
Swordfish boat Feluca
It has been fished since ancient times with a harpoon, a method mentioned by Homer in the XII Book of the Odyssey.
In the straits of Messina, they are fished with a special boat called Feluca, which has been used for more than 500 years.
The Feluca has a very high tower and a very long bridge.
The high tower is used to locate the fish.
When a swordfish is spotted, a fisherman with a harpoon stretches at the end of the long bridge to harpoon the fish.
The long bridge is used to catch the fish before it is warned off by the noise of the boat and swims away.
However, this method has also raised numerous concerns as the fish caught in this manner suffer a long and exhausting death.
Although, some claim that it is better for marine life since it does not involve any bycatch
By and large, they are mostly caught using hand lines left in the sea by the fishermen with a transmitter attached so that it can be easily recovered.
They are positioned in the sea by the fishermen with bate attached and left there for about 2 days.
Nevertheless, even this method has its downside.
If the fish is caught soon after the lines have been put in place – it will be trapped on the line for 2 days putting up a fierce struggle and eventually dying.
Protecting it from overfishing
So, if you want to buy swordfish meat to eat, there are many elements to consider; I would recommend the following:
- Make sure that professional and responsible fishermen have caught it.
- Buy it in moderation; buy it fresh.
- Make the most of the swordfish meat using all parts.
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