When I am looking for a quick and easy fish entree that comes together in about 15 minutes, swordfish is one of my first choices. I love it’s rich, meaty texture and like to balance it with something that is tart, a bit sweet and a little salty. This palate pleasing salad of oranges, fennel and olives takes it’s inspiration from Sicily.
The orange supremes take some careful knife work but are worth the effort. Using your sharpest pairing knife, trim off the top and bottom of the orange. Rest the orange on one of the cut ends and trim off the peel and pith in large strips, carefully following the contours of the fruit. Cut the segments free from the membrane. Be sure to do this over a bowl to catch all the juices. Squeeze the remaining membrane to capture every last drop of juice. I reduced the juice in a small saucepan to intensify the flavor in the vinaigrette.
I think fennel is a greatly under used vegetable. Related to carrots, parsley, dill and coriander, it has a crunchy texture and refreshing licoricey flavor popular in Mediterranean cooking. To cut, trim the feathery foliage and stalks off where they meet the top of the bulb. The stalks and foliage can be used as a bed for cooking the fish. Cut the bulb in quarters lengthwise and cut out the core. Slice the sections thinly using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. I used fennel thinnings from the garden. They didn’t have a hard solid core so I used the entire fennel bulb.
Kalamata olives are almond shaped and dark purple in color. They are cured in a red wine vinegar brine that gives them a rich, fruity flavor. They are often found on the Mediterranean bar in many supermarkets. To pit olives, place them on a flat surface and lightly crush with the side of a broad flat chef’s knife. Remove the pit and cut the olives in half lengthwise.
Cumin is one of my favorite spices and toasting cumin seeds really intensifies their flavor. Use a small dry skillet over medium to medium high heat. Keep the pan in constant motion, the seeds will darken and your kitchen will be filled with a warm toasty aroma. Immediately remove them from the pan and transfer to a bowl or a mortar and pestle. Crushing the toasted seeds brings out their flavor even more. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, put the seeds in a plastic bag and crush them with the bottom of a heavy pan or a rolling pin.
Combine the reduced orange juice, toasted fennel and olive oil. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and lightly toss. Serve salad with the fish and garnish the plates with fennel fronds.
- 1 small to medium fennel bulb
- 2-3 medium oranges
- 1//3 c kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half lengthwise
- ½ t cumin seed
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the fennel in quarters lengthwise, removing the core. Thinly slice the fennel, preferably with a mandoline. You will need 1 cup.
- Remove peel and pith from the oranges using a sharp paring knife. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, carefully cut between membranes, to remove segments. Squeeze remaining membrane to extract juice. In a small saucepan reduce the orange juice to two tablespoons. Set aside.
- Toast the cumin seed in a small non stick saute pan until fragrant and toasted. Grind toasted cumin seed in a mortar and pestle. In a small bowl combine reduced orange juice, cumin and olive oil, stir together.
- In a medium bowl combine the sliced fennel, orange segments, and olives. Pour the dressing over and lightly toss. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.
- 2- 6 oz swordfish steaks
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Wondra flour
- 1 T each olive oil and unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Measure steaks using the Canadian method to calculate total cooking time.
- Season swordfish steaks with salt and pepper. Dust with Wondra flour.
- Heat an oven-proof saute pan over medium high heat.
- Melt butter and oil in a saute pan large enough to hold the fish without crowding and small enough to fit in your oven.
- Brown swordfish for two minutes on each side.
- Move saute pan to oven. Finish in oven, subtracting four minutes from your total cooking time. For example 1″ fish=10 minutes cooking time minus four minutes equals six minutes in the oven.
- Using oven mitts, remove from pan from oven, transfer fish to serving plate with spatula. Serve with the orange, fennel and kalamata salad.