Home > Ethical Consumption, Food, Provenance > Charred Swordfish Steak with Salsa Verde, Garlic Butter Parsley Potatoes and a Chopped Salad

Charred Swordfish Steak with Salsa Verde, Garlic Butter Parsley Potatoes and a Chopped Salad

Here’s something of a blast from the past, that I uncovered while sorting through my recipes to go into the upcoming recipe book (Yes, at long last, The Man in the Kitchen is setting about producing a recipe book!), and this, I am sure, will be one of them. I perfected and wrote the recipe way back in July 2007.

Charred Swordfish Steak with, Salsa Verde, Garlic Butter Parsley Potatoes and a Chopped Salad

Preparation Time: 45 minutes Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes Yield: 4

Yummy charred swordfish steak with salsa verde, potatoes and chopped salad.

What does a Man in the Kitchen do when he cannot get hold of a nice piece of tuna loin, or even a tuna steak for that matter? That’s the question which troubled me as I drove down to Seafood on Sail in Gants Centre on Friday afternoon. I was planning to meet up with Claudio Paioni, the owner, with the intention of schmoozing him for either the tuna I needed, or at the very least, a viable alternative.

Claudio was not available, so I met up with Mike, the manager and we conferred on my dilemma.

“Hmmm,” mused Mike “no tuna I’m afraid. With this weather, not much is coming out of the water right now.”

Which, to put it mildly, was not what I wanted to hear. You see, I had this unquenchable desire to grill a lovely piece of tuna and drench it in a tangy salsa verde along with a nice bit of chopped salad and some garlic butter and parsley potatoes.

Game fish is rich in omega three and omega six oils, the ones that are supposed to be good rather than bad for your cholesterol level. This makes it largely guilt-free, which is quite unusual, since nowadays delicious is usually bad for you and tasteless and boring is good for you.

Besides, it has richer firmer flesh, and due to the normally large size, can be cut into lovely thick steaks which grill quickly and magnificently. It is surprisingly dense, and a quite small piece is surprisingly heavy. The steaks Mike gave me, each about 10 centimetres in diameter were around 200 grams each in weight. The same weight and thickness in kabeljou orCapesalmon would have been almost twice the size.

Somewhat at sixes and sevens, I appealed to Mike’s expertise for a substitute for tuna.

“Swordfish” he replied immediately.

“Swordfish” I responded doubtfully, recalling vividly a picture I saw in a book when I was a child. It showed an enormous sand shark like creature with a long serrated sword protruding from its snout “Is that the one which looks like a sand shark with the big ragged saw thing on its snout?”

“No” said Mike with an indulgent smile, “that’s a saw fish. Very different, believe me. The swordfish is a cousin of the marlin.” The very thought of eating such a magnificent fish horrified me even more, until Mike assured me that the swordfish is a distant cousin of the marlin, and commonly exploited commercially. It was then I recalled that almost surreal movie The Perfect Storm in which George Clooney et al get a one way ticket to Davy Jones Locker when a storm hits while they are long line fishing for swordfish in the North Atlantic.

Of course, in today’s sensitive society, the issue of provenance emerges, and justifiably so. The South Atlantic Swordfish population, according to SASSI, is “fully exploited” (Orange List species) , and this is where our local catch would come from. If, like me, you believe there should only be a Green and a Red List, then you’ll eschew South Atlantic Swordfish.

Information about North Atlantic Swordfish populations is contradictory, however. According to the US commerce department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, stocks had largely recovered, as recently as May 2010. SASSI however notes that imported (i.e. North Atlantic) is fully exploited and therefore on the Red List. A December 2011 article in The Times of Malta, notes that the Mediterranean stocks of juvenile swordfish are over exploited. Purchase with care, and demand proof of provenance from the retailer.

Ingredients, Selection and Preparation

4 x 150 – 200 gm swordfish steaks:  fresh is best, but if frozen, make sure it is completely thawed before you start. Pat it dry with kitchen paper towel and brush with some olive oil.

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 – 6 medium Rozetta potatoes: these are the pink ones you’ll find at your green grocer. If you can’t find any, then ordinary white potatoes will do, although they aren’t as tasty. Scrub well, remove any eyes or dodgy bits, then quarter them and place in water.

2 tsp fresh parsley: chopped.

3 cloves garlic: crushed.

50g butter

(Salsa Verde)

3 anchovy fillets: not that easy to get, and if the imported variety, they are hideously expensive. I tend to buy anchovied pilchard fillets, which although not quite the same thing, are a worthy substitute at about a quarter of the price.

1tbsp salted capers: rinse them thoroughly and set aside.

2 green chillis: I used Jalapenos, seeded and de-veined which imparted crunch and flavour but no burn. If you want your salsa verde to have a bite, include the septum or vein in the chilli, but not the seeds. Chop finely.

1 clove of garlic: crushed.

2tbsp of fresh parsley: chopped including stalks.

2tbsp of fresh coriander: chopped including stalks.

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp of white wine vinegar OR white balsamic vinegar

(Chopped salad)

1 medium red pepper: deseeded and chopped.

1 medium yellow pepper: deseeded and chopped.

1 bunch fresh spinach leaves: wash thoroughly to remove any sand and cut out the centre spine, then chop roughly.

1 medium red onion: chopped.

½ a small cucumber: cut from the exposed end down towards the butt of the cucumber, then cut again at 90 degrees. Now cut across about 3 to 4 mm thick so that you get four quarters per slice.

2 medium salad tomatoes: Rip vine tomatoes are best if you can get them. Chop roughly.


Get the salsa verde done first. Chop the anchovy fillets and capers finely using a large knife. You’re basically mincing them, using that classic action you’ll have seen on TV (if you ever watch BBC Lifestyle or the Food Network Channel that is!). Grasp the tip of the knife with one hand, and using the other hand chop downwards with guillotine motion while moving the blade through an arc. Repeat until the ingredient is finely chopped.

Place the chilli and crushed garlic on top and repeat until finely chopped.

Scrape into a bowl, add stir in the parsley and coriander leaves, three tbsp of olive oil and the vinegar.  Season to taste with black pepper and set aside.

Combine all of the salad ingredients in a salad bowl and toss to mix. Set aside.

Rinse the potatoes well and bring to the boil in a saucepan of water with a teaspoon of salt added. Check them regularly and as soon as they are cooked through, remove from the heat and drain. Return to the heat for a couple of minutes to dry the potatoes a little then add the butter, three cloves of crushed garlic, the two tsp of chopped parsley and stir in gently. Turn off the heat, but leave the saucepan on the plate with the lid in place to keep warm.

Brush a heavy non-stick frying pan, preferably of the ridged type with oil, season the swordfish steaks with salt and pepper and fry for about four to five minutes on each side, turning once only. Watch carefully to avoid overcooking the fish. Remember that it will continue to cook once you remove it from the heart.

Serve immediately with a generous dollop of salsa verde, the potatoes, and the accompanying salad, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


  1. February 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Dear Norman, this recipe looks scrumptious, the kind of meal that inspires savoring each bite slowly, with reverence and appreciation for fine food. I will enjoy preparing it for my husband on our next ‘date night in’. I appreciate your recent visit and comment today and was further delighted to find your site. I’m a new follower and am anticipating a great change in my kitchen and table because of you!

    • February 17, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Dear Jenny, My heart went out to you when I read Linda’s message about your tragic loss. My beloved kitty, Sashimo, a long hair Siamese was murdered by our next door neighbour’s dogs about eight years ago, and my wife Eppie’s brown Burmese, Nikita, was murdered by a pack of stray dogs in our complex about four years ago. Both were heartbreaking experiences. We both still miss our beloved kitties. Our younger daughter has a Jack Russell who goes by the name of Lola, who because Alex now lives in Stellenbosch where she cannot have a pet, lives at home with us for the time being. She is a very busy little thing, and although somewhat tiring at times (a Jack Russell is a needy pet!), she is a delight to have around.
      I’m delighted you like the recipe and the site in general, and I will endeavour to post more frequently from the stock of about 300 recipes that I have produced over the last five years. I am working on a recipe book, which is set to come out around October, so watch this space!

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