Swordfish Piccata. Swordfish is seasoned simply, grilled, then topped with a buttery, tangy, and briny piccata pan sauce. This sophisticated, yet approachable dinner is one of our favorite ways to serve this meaty, mild fish (it’s the cover recipe on my cookbook!). Oh — and bonus, this fish dinner is ready to serve in a mere 20 minutes.
WHAT IS SWORDFISH PICCATA?
Swordfish piccata is most often made in a skillet by searing the swordfish on both sides, removing it from heat, then making a pan sauce in the same skillet, and finally placing the swordfish back into the skillet to finish cooking through. Piccata typically refers to the sauce of lemon, butter, capers and broth (or in this case, white wine).
In this recipe, we are grilling the swordfish instead of cooking it in a skillet, to impart the beautiful smoky flavor that only comes from the grill. While the grill is preheating, you’ll whisk up a silky, briny and buttery white wine caper sauce. You won’t have the delicious pan drippings that come from cooking the swordfish in the pan, but we think the incredible grill flavor is an even greater benefit.
An essential ingredient in swordfish piccata is the capers which add acidity, brininess and saltiness — so don’t omit those capers!
WHAT IS SWORDFISH?
Swordfish is a very large fish with a long sword-like bill. They are one of the fastest predators in the ocean and typically weigh between 50 and 200 lbs, according to NOAA. Swordfish have a meaty texture, which makes it great for grilling, and a mild, sweet-like-the-sea flavor. It’s not a strong flavored fish, which makes it a tasty option for non-fish lovers.
Fresh swordfish really needs very little to make it delicious – a bit of salt and pepper, butter and lemon is really all you need. This swordfish piccata is one small step beyond that, but still allows the beautiful flavor of the swordfish to shine through.
The flesh of swordfish can range from white to pink or even orange (there is a type of swordfish called pumpkin sword!). The flesh closer to the bloodline (red portion of the steak) will be strongly flavored compared to the rest of the flesh.
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED FOR THIS RECIPE
- swordfish steaks
- olive oil
- dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- unsalted butter
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
HOW TO MAKE SWORDFISH PICCATA
- Preheat grill; clean and oil grates.
- Brush swordfish with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet, add shallot and garlic and heat until fragrant and translucent. Add wine, bring heat to medium high. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce to half; add capers and butter. Whisk sauce until smooth and combined. Add a few lemon slices to the pan. Keep warm over low heat.
- Place swordfish on the grill and grill for 5 minutes on one side, flip and grill until fish reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.
- Pour sauce over fish, reserving a bit of sauce for serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve fish with lemon wedges.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS FISH PICCATA?
We love serving this swordfish piccata with white rice or crusty bread plus any grilled veggie, depending on the season – so grilled asparagus, grilled corn, grilled zucchini in warmer months — or roasted veggies like broccoli or cabbage in the cooler months.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Is swordfish good for you?
Yes! Swordfish is rich in protein and provides an excellent source of Vitamin D, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, phosphorous and selenium. It also contains some brain and heart health promoting omega-3 fatty acids.
- Isn’t swordfish high in mercury?
Swordfish is higher in mercury than most other fish and shellfish choices. Because of the high levels, children should avoid eating swordfish and adults should limit their consumption of it, but should regularly enjoy lower mercury choices because seafood is both incredibly nutritious, tasty and convenient. We enjoy swordfish a few times a year (in fact, it’s one of my favorite fish) and the rest of the time will choose lower mercury choices. Here’s a chart from the EPA that discusses advice about eating fish for children 1-11.
- Why is swordfish high in mercury?
Swordfish is a large fish and fish higher up the food chain “bioaccumulate” more methylmercury than do those lower on the food chain. So larger fish that have lived long lives have more mercury in their flesh than do fish lower on the food chain.
- How much fish should we eat per week?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming at least 8 ounces of fish per week, lesser amounts for children. Those who might become or are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat between 8 and 12 ounces of a variety of fish per week, from choices that are lower in mercury. Learn all about the many health benefits of seafood here.
TRY THESE OTHER GREAT GRILLED SEAFOOD RECIPES
For the fish
- 24 ounces swordfish steaks
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Pinto Grigio
- 2 tablespoons capers drained
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lemon cut into thin rounds (use a few for the sauce, a few for serving)
- Preheat grill to high heat. Clean and oil grates.
- Brush swordfish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add shallot and garlic and heat until fragrant and translucent. Add wine, bring heat to medium high. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce to half. (If you reduce too much, add another splash of wine.) Add capers and butter. Whisk sauce until smooth and combined. Add a few lemon slices to the pan. Keep warm over low heat.
- Meanwhile, place swordfish on the grill and grill for 5 minutes on one side, flip and grill until fish reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. Fish will continue rising in temperature, to a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Remove from heat and place on serving platter.
- Whisk sauce well. Pour sauce over fish, reserving a bit of sauce for serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve fish with lemon wedges.
PIN this recipe for later: