January 4, 2014 Swordfish with Tomato, Cucumber and Radish Relish


A new year and a time for new beginnings. No more lobster bisque with heavy cream, filet wrapped in bacon with blue cheese. Time to put those tempting chocolate caramels topped with sea salt and every imaginable variation of chocolate truffles away for awhile. It’s time to eat healthy again and lose those few extra holiday pounds. As of January 2nd we have embarked on a healthy eating plan. What it doesn’t mean is deprivation.

We both love fish and swordfish steaks are one of my favorites. Swordfish can weigh as much as 1000 pounds but usually average between 50 and 100 pounds. The “sword” accounts for one third of their length. Due to mismanagement and overfishing the swordfish population was dwindling at the end of the twentieth century. After more than a decade of responsible management, the United States swordfish population is thriving. Now the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Watch rates North Atlantic swordfish (harpoon and hand line caught) a “best choice”. They are fished all along the North Atlantic coast, from Newfoundland to coastal Florida, wherever and whenever the water is warm.

There is a consumption advisory for swordfish, due to elevated levels of mercury. From what I have read in the most recent literature the health benefits of swordfish outweigh the detriments for most people. Large ocean fish, like swordfish have higher concentrations of selenium, a trace mineral necessary to all functions of the body. Selenium bonds to the mercury in swordfish and prevents the body from absorbing mercury.

Fish markets buy sections of swordfish called wheels, the thickness of which are measured in knuckles. Each knuckle corresponds to one of the fish’s vertabrae. A wheel is either sliced into steaks or quartered into loins. Swordfish flesh is firm, lean and sweet.

As the title of the book says this recipe is fast, easy and fresh. I call this a relish and not a salsa, I know that salsa means sauce but the secondary connotation is that a salsa will have some heat. This recipe is not hot, though that is an option open to the cook. You could add some avocado, red onion, a little celery, a small fresh chili, the options and combinations are many. When I need raw tomatoes out of season I prefer Campari tomatoes. They are small but have the best flavor of any tomato I have tried. Remember never refrigerate any tomato. They lose flavor and quickly become mealy.

Our swordfish piece was on the thin side so all the cooking it needed was a few minutes on each side in a hot grill pan, you want the center of the steak to remain moist. If you can make it through the snow, grilling would be another cooking option. Refer to my previous swordfish post for cooking a thicker piece of swordfish using the Canadian Fisheries method.



Swordfish with Tomato, Fennel, Cucumber, and Radish Relish

Adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh

Serves 2

  • 2 6-to-7 ounce swordfish steaks
  • 3T olive oil
  • 2 t fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tomatoes or 5 Campari tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2c diced pickling cucumber or English hothouse cucumber
  • 1/2c finely diced fennel
  • 4 medium radishes, diced
  • 3 T chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Spray grill pan with Pam and preheat grill pan to medium-high heat.
  2. Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, fennel, radishes and cilantro, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Timing is always a function of the thickness of your fish. One inch thickness of fish equals 10 minutes cooking time. Measure first!
  4. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper and grill over a medium-high heat, our fish took  about 4 minutes per side, rotate fish half way through each cooking time to create a crosshatch pattern.
  5. Serve fish with relish.


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I love to cook, garden, entertain and celebrate holidays with family and friends in Bucks County Pa. I was an off-premise caterer for over 20 years with events ranging from ten to four hundred guests.