Sports fishermen consider swordfish exciting to catch, but chefs and diners also know it as a delicacy. These predatory fish grow to 136 Kilogram or more, so fishmongers typically divide their firm-fleshed meat into steaks as they do with tuna. Swordfish has a light, but meaty, flavour that complements a variety of spices and cooking techniques. Dense and meaty swordfish steaks stand up to grilling, pan-searing and roasting better than more delicate species.
Basil refers not only to the familiar sweet basil, but also to Thai basil, lemon basil and purple basil. These herbs go well with swordfish, as their distinctive citrus-like flavour complements mild seafood. Use basil fresh if possible; the dried herb loses much of its characteristic flavour and almost all its fragrance. Basil works well in Italian-inspired dishes or in Southeast Asian preparations.
The warm, earthy taste of cumin brings out swordfish's meatiness. Cumin is especially popular in Central and South American cuisines, but it also stands out in dishes as diverse as Indian curries and Texas chilli. Cumin's taste can overpower more delicate flavours, so use it sparingly. Combine cumin with less pungent herbs to mellow its pervasive flavour. Use cumin as a pre-grill spice rub for swordfish or add a dash of it to a marinade for hob preparations.
Resinous, warm and mellow, coriander gives a swordfish steak an exotic flavour. Although these seedlike dried fruits come from the same plant as cilantro leaves, the two flavouring agents taste nothing alike. Coriander is a key component in Indian and Thai curries. Add this spice and coconut milk to a swordfish-based soup or stew to give it a hint of curry. Coriander also makes a good dry-rub ingredient as it can withstand the heat of grilling.
Swordfish steaks, like beef and tuna steaks, stand up well to the piquant taste of cracked black pepper. Swordfish steak au poivre incorporates black and green peppercorns in its creamy, peppery sauce. Pepper-crusted swordfish steaks look as attractive as they would in a high-end restaurant, yet require a home chef to do little more than grind the pepper and press the ground spices into the fish's flesh before grilling the steaks. Pink peppercorns make a striking addition to a pepper mixture for a pepper-crusted treatment.
Pungent, red paprika comes from dried, ground sweet peppers. Paprika adds colour as well as flavour and its vivid, red hue goes especially well with orange-tinged swordfish steaks. Although Hungarian paprikash and goulash employ the spice heavily, paprika goes with any regional cuisine that uses sweet or hot chilli peppers. Some versions of the spice have a smoky flavour as well; smoked paprika gives pan-seared swordfish a rustic taste of outdoor grilling.
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