Are you looking for an easy and fast seafood dinner that looks and taste like the fancy fish entrées you get at a restaurant? If so, I’ve got the dish for you.
A swordfish steak is a meaty, easy-to-grill seafood steak that is similar to a boneless skinless chicken breast in that it is a blank canvas that takes on the flavors of the sauce you serve with it. It has a firm texture and a mild flavor which makes it a fish that is loved by both seafood aficionados and those who aren’t sure if that they like seafood.
If you’ve been to Nantucket, you may know that the classic way to grill swordfish is to slather it in mayonnaise and grill it over a medium direct heat for about 4 minutes a side. The mayonnaise keeps the fish juicy and help prevent the fish from sticking. This is a good grilling technique for any hearty fish steak or filet.
But the recipe that I turn to most often is my Grilled Swordfish with Nutty Browned Butter and Pecans. If you think it sounds like a weird combination, think about Trout Almondine, a.k.a. Trout Amandine; it’s not the same, but it’s definitely in the same family.
The sauce is so simple and so good that you will find yourself making it with sliced almonds and hazelnuts in addition to pecans for all manner of grilled shellfish and seafood, pounded pork and chicken paillards, and vegetables! The browned butter and nuts are terrific with green beans, asparagus, grilled sweet potatoes, winter squash to name a few.
You start with a cold skillet and a cold stick of butter. A cold skillet helps to insure that the butter browns slowly and doesn’t burn. Turn the heat on low, and don’t be tempted to turn the flame higher or walk away. You need to watch this or it will burn, guaranteed! As soon as the butter melts, you add a cup of nuts. Watch and stir occasionally, and soon you will be rewarded with a nutty smell in the air and in the pan.
As soon as you smell that toasty browned butter, turn off the heat. It will be very foamy but as it cools, the foam will disappear.
Set the skillet aside and grill the swordfish. There are three main steps:
- Preheat the grill
- Brush the fish steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
- Make sure that the cooking grates are super clean
I preheat the grill on high, and just before grilling, I lift the lid, turn all the burners down and clean the cooking grates one more time. They are easier to clean when they are super hot and the time it takes for me to brush the grates cools them down to the perfect temperature so the grill marks are golden brown and not black.
Once you put your oiled and seasoned fish on the grill, lower the lid so that the grill is covered. This is very important. You wouldn’t bake a cake with the oven door open, don’t grill with the lid up.
I grill both frozen and fresh swordfish the same way. The only difference is that the frozen swordfish steaks take a little longer to cook on the first side, about 8 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the steak.
When you turn the fish, you can use tongs or a spatula. Most of the fish will release itself naturally, but you may have a few spots that stick. Nudge them gently with the tips of the tongs or a fish spatula until you can pick up the whole fish steak easily.
If you’ve oiled the fish, and have clean cooking grates, the only reason you should have a big issue with sticking is if you try to turn the fish too early. Once it is cooked on a side, it naturally releases itself and is easy to flip.
The second side should take about 4 minutes for either fresh or frozen, because at that point, the steak will be full thawed and half cooked.
Remove from the grill, let it sit for about 5 minutes and spoon the Nutty Brown Butter and Pecans over the fish. Serve immediately and enjoy! This sauce is your back-pocket secret for elevated but easy grilled food.
Swordfish Steaks with Nutty Brown Butter and Pecans
As soon as you smell that delicious toasty browned butter, turn off the heat. The butter will be very foamy but as it cools, the foam will disappear. The sauce is so simple and so good that you will find yourself making it with sliced almonds and hazelnuts in addition to pecans for all manner of grilled shellfish and seafood, pounded pork and chicken paillards and vegetables!
Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Heat
2-4 center-cut swordfish steaks, about 1-inch thick
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup pecan pieces
Put a stick of butter in a cold sauté pan. On a medium-low flame, slowly melt the butter. Add the pecans and let them brown and become toasted as the butter slowly browns. Season lightly with sea salt and white pepper.
You will need to watch the pan closely as the butter can burn very quickly. When butter reaches desired color – dark caramel remove from heat, cover and set aside. Either keep warm or gently reheat before topping on fish.
Brush fish steaks on both sides with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place directly on the cooking grate and if fresh, grill about 4-5 minutes on each side.If frozen, grill about 8 minutes on the first side and 4-5 minutes on the second side or until fish is opaque and has naturally released itself from the grill.
Remove from the grill and place on a clean platter. Top with the brown butter and pecans. Serve immediately