Swordfish can be distinguished from other billfishes by the shape of its prolonged bill, which appears as a flattened oval in cross section. The bill is long relative to other billfishes and adults lack teeth in the jaws.
Mediterranean swordfish are now believed to form a separate stock from the Atlantic stocks, however they are not totally isolated.
Swordfish comes as steaks or loin pieces; it does not freeze well, although some frozen-at-sea fish maintains its good quality.
Buying and storing tips
The colour of quality swordfish varies from white to pinkish-beige, but if it is tinged with brown, thats a sign of an off flavour. Swordfish do have dark meat along with the white, but it should be cherry-red, not brown.
Keep swordfish cool on the trip from the market to your house. Never let it stay unrefrigerated for long.
To store swordfish, remove packaging, rinse fish under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. The fish deteriorates when it sits in its own juices, so place it on a cake rack in a shallow pan filled with crushed ice. Cover with cling wrap or foil and set in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Swordfish will store well this way for up to two days.
When well-wrapped, swordfish can also be frozen for up to two months in a refrigerator freezer compartment and three to four months in a deep-freezer. Use lined freezer paper, and wrap fish pieces tightly with at least two layers of paper.
To thaw slowly, unwrap, place fish in pan, cover, and leave for 24 hours in the refrigerator. To thaw more quickly, place the fish pieces (wrapped in a watertight bag) in a sink with cool running water, allowing about 1/2 hour per pound (454g). For fastest thawing, use the defrost cycle of your microwave, allowing 2 to 5 minutes per pound (454g), with equal standing time in between zaps.
Preparation, uses and tips
The secret to successful swordfish cookery is to not overcook it. Whichever cooking methods you choose, your swordfish will be cooked when its flesh becomes opaque yet is still moist on the inside.
Most swordfish should be cooked as skinless fillets, steaks, or chunks, as the skin is tough and strong tasting.
Place swordfish in a greased baking dish or wrap in oiled foil and place on a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter or oil and season with salt and pepper, or cover with a piquant sauce. Bake in a preheated 450°F (230°C) oven.
Place fillets, steaks, or kebabs directly on a greased grill, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15cm) above prepared coals or fire. Baste with butter, oil, or marinade. Cook until opaque and moist on the inside, 6 to 8 minutes.
Place steaks or kebabs on a well-greased broiler pan. Broil under preheated broiler 4 to 5 inches (about 10 to 12.5cm) from heat. Turn once. Cook until opaque and moist on the inside, 6 to 10 minutes.
Fry swordfish in a small amount of hot butter or oil, turning once halfway through cooking time. Cook until opaque and moist on the inside, 4 to 8 minutes.
Cut swordfish steaks or fillets into bite-sized pieces. Coat with cornstarch, and stir-fry gently and briefly in hot oil before adding to your favorite stir-fried vegetables.
Bring poaching liquid, consisting of water, broth, herbs and spices to a simmer. Slip in swordfish, then cover pan and keep liquid at a simmer for about eight minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) of thickness.
Place swordfish on a greased perforated rack over 1 to 2 inches (about 2.5 to 5cm) of rapidly boiling water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and keep water at a constant boil through cooking time, about 8 to 10 minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) thickness of fish.
Swordfish, 1 piece (3.5 oz.) (99g) (cooked, dry heat):
Total Fat: 5.4g
A word of caution to pregnant women
The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.A. has advised pregnant women, women who could become pregnant and nursing mothers to avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. The FDA advises that other fish are permissible for pregnant and nursing women as part of a healthy diet.