April 7, 2016

Grilled Swordfish with Honey Mustard & Carrot Radish Slaw

A few weeks ago I accidentally bought a 20 euro piece of swordfish from a local fishmonger in a farmers' market. I had just returned from Sicily and was a little irritated that my roommates/travel companions who only ate french fries refused to eat anywhere I could get swordfish. It's a Sicilian specialty, and I hadn't had fish in a while but unfortunately it didn't suit their delicate palates. Luckily, it's easy to get fresh swordfish in Rome; any good fishmonger will have an entire swordfish ready to be cut into pieces for whoever walks in. I decided I wanted some and politely requested a single portion in butchered Italian. Of course the guys in the shop laughed at me since it's pretty much impossible to cut a single portion from a fish bigger than I am. I sighed and asked for just a piece since I was determined to have some swordfish, and I saw a sign next to the fish that said 20 euros per kg, which is only around $10 a pound and is pretty cheap for swordfish caught that morning. Unfortunately they cut me a pretty big piece and the price was double what I thought it would be, so I ended up with a very pricey piece of fish. You can't exactly return it, but you can cook it up all fancy and pretty and delicious, which is where this recipe comes in.

Another tidbit of information from Rome is that as soon as I came back from Spring Break earlier this week the city had transformed from chilly and gloomy to hot and sunny and lively. One of the benefits of the change in weather is all the new produce; I've found tiny, sweet cantaloupes and fresh berries and all sorts of other gorgeous produce. It's only natural to pair fresh spring veggies like radishes and carrots with some incredibly fresh fish, and this is the way to do it. I marinate the swordfish in Italy's finest olive oil and herbs before grilling until browned and flaky. It gets topped with a honey mustard sauce and a crunchy slaw of carrots, radishes, and jicama. The colors pop in contrast with the fish to make the best spring fish dinner you can imagine.

To let the slaw shine, I keep the fish simple. I just let it sit in some olive oil flavored with thyme, rosemary, and sometimes some garlic. Of course I throw in some freshly ground pepper and coarse sea salt as well. Since the marinade is so simple, it's important to use good quality ingredients like fresh herbs and real extra virgin olive oil. I know it uses a lot but you really can taste the difference.

All good fish dishes need a sauce, and here I use a homemade honey mustard to add some tang to the brine-y fish and the sweet vegetables. It's a combination of mustard (preferably Dijon), honey, thyme, and a splash of olive oil to improve the consistency. If you want to add a spicy kick to the dish, this is the place to do it. It's easy to stir in some cayenne pepper or a dash of your favorite hot sauce.

The slaw is the finishing touch. It's equal parts jicama, carrots, and radishes. The colors are beautiful, it's the perfect balance of sweet and sharp, and it's unbelievably crunchy. To make it extra pretty, I use a mandoline to slice everything to the same thickness and then use a round cookie cutter to make sure the slices are all the same size. If you plan carefully, you can get carrots and radishes that are about the same width and then just cut the jicama with the cookie cutters to match. Of course you can also have these in all different shapes and sizes. You don't even have to make round slices; you can cut all the vegetables into matchsticks for a faster prep time.

This dish is truly stunning if you assemble it before serving instead of plopping it on your table separately. I slather some of the honey mustard sauce onto each piece of fish and layer on slices of the slaw to cover the top. I'd serve it immediately so the vegetables stay crisp and the fish stays hot and juicy. Hopefully you won't get sucked into paying way more than you intended for dinner, but my Italian fish-buying ordeal wasn't nearly as bad knowing I could make something this fantastic.

1 1/2 lbs Swordfish
1/4 Cup + 3 T Olive Oil
8 Sprigs Thyme
2 Sprigs Rosemary
1 Cup Sliced Carrots
1 Cup Sliced Radishes
1 Cup Sliced Jicama
3 T Mustard
2 T Honey

Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil together with the leaves from half the thyme and all of the rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and generously brush onto the fish.

Heat and grease a grill; grill the fish until cooked through.

Whisk the remaining olive oil, mustard, honey, and remaining thyme together. Toss the carrots, radishes, and jicama together.

Spread the honey mustard onto the fish and top with the slaw.

Serves 4

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