Swordfish braciole or braciole di pesce spade in Italian is definitely not your everyday braciole. Swordfish are found in abundance on menus in Sicily but this swordfish braciole is definitely something special. Every once and a while it’s nice to deviate from a well-known recipe and try something new.
We all know what traditional meat or veal braciole are. The swordfish version is a nice recipe I like to prepare in the warmer weather. They are much quicker to cook, lighter to eat, and grill up nicely too. Once your swordfish braciole are cooked you can serve them with the black olive tapenade and tomato vinaigrette recipe below, or a refreshing orange and fennel salad. You can sprinkle some chopped pistachios or pinenut over the skewers just before serving. A chilled Pinot Grigio would pair nicely with this dish. And now you have a Sicilian summer taste in the comfort of your own home. Enjoy!
- 4 swordfish steaks cut 1 ¼ inch thick
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 16 ounces – Fontina cheese
- 8 garlic cloves, medium size
- 40 sprigs – Italian parsley, (approximately)
- 16- basil leaves
- 8 tablespoons – pine nuts or pistachios, (toasted)
- 4-6 eggs
- 3-4 cups – unseasoned bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons – yellow raisins (optional)
- bay leaves – enough to layer in between each braciola on a skewer
- salt and white pepper
- Bamboo skewers soaked in water (24-48 hours) prior to using
Preparing the swordfish (cleaning)
The preparation can be a little tricky since swordfish is much more delicate to work with than beef or veal.
Step 1– My best suggestion is to first trim the swordfish and remove any skin, blood spots, and trim off any other dark or undesirable areas. Save good trimmings to later use in the filling. Once cleaned soak the swordfish in lightly salted water with the squeezed lemon juice. The water lemon mixture should just cover the swordfish by about a half-inch. Place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Step 2 – Now remove the swordfish from the liquid and rinse off. Pat them dry and then wrap the swordfish in plastic wrap. Place it in the freezer to firm up for about 20 minutes. They should only become semi-frozen. This will make it much easier to cut thin uniform pieces that you will quickly pound out to make them thin and a little bigger.
Swordfish preparation (thinning out)
- Remove the swordfish from the freezer.
- The swordfish should be semi-frozen.
- Work with one swordfish steak at a time keeping the others chilled.
- Now divide one swordfish steak in half.
- Place it between two pieces of plastic wrap and lightly pound them to about 1/4 inches thick.
- Once pounded if the swordfish looks too big you can cut it in half or quarters depending on the size braciole you prefer.
Tip – You will need to work fast so the swordfish remains chilled. Additionally, you need to be careful not to create any tears in the thinly pounded swordfish. If you do, simply take some of the reserved good trimmings to quickly patch it up.
In the restaurant, we cut the semi-frozen swordfish on an electric slicer. It is faster than by hand, more accurate, and usually eliminated the need to pound the slices out. But, at home, it’s better and safer to use the plastic and mallet method.
Making the Filling
- Add the cheese, garlic, parsley, basil, pine nuts, and raisins, to a food processor, using the “PULSE” option to create a smooth paste.
Tip – Add a drizzle of olive oil if the paste becomes too thick. Or, a little water.
- Alternatively, you can mix all together in a bowl, and using clean hands create a homogenous paste too.
- Add salt and white pepper to taste
- Now add the eggs with quick pulses (if using the machine) one at a time. Stop when all the eggs are incorporated and the filling is a thick-ish consistency.
Tip – You need to work fast because when the mix gets too warm it will become gummy. A little chunky or not completely smooth is better than heating it up too much and making a very unattractive paste or a gooey mixture!
• Carefully add a tablespoon of filling (more or less depending on the size of swordfish you are working with) to the pounded swordfish.
Tip – Moinsening the back of a tablespoon with cool water makes it easier to spread the filling without tearing the swordfish. Also, you can do the same with your thumb and carefully spread the filling out. Leave a little room around the ends with no filling.
- Place more filling in the center rather than the ends so the cheese doesn’t come out.
- Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
- Roll up tightly, skewer them.
- Place in freezer to firm up.
- Skewer fish 3 to a portion alternate with bay leaves.
- Grill gently!
Tip – Only use ripe juicy tomatoes. If you can’t find any skip this recipe.
• 2 cups, tomato concasse (medium diced tomatoes, skin and seeds removed)
• 3 juiced, lemons
• 2 teaspoons, chopped garlic
• 8 tablespoons – Jerez vinegar
• 1/4 cup, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• salt and pepper to taste
Tomato vinaigrette procedure
- Pulse quickly in food processor
- Should remain slightly chunky!
Tip – This can be done by a food processor or whisking by hand.
- 2 cups, pitted black olives
- 3 tablespoons, minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons, chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons, capers
- 2 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 pinches, fresh or dried thyme
- ½ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- ½ lemon, juiced
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend it all together.
- Adjust the consistency with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place all in a plastic container large enough to hold the tapenade.
- Cover the top with a thin film of olive oil and then top it with a piece of plastic wrap.
- Place it on the lid and store it in your refrigerator. Stored like this the tapenade should last a good 2-3 weeks.
- Get your grill very hot!
- Warm it up for about 20-30 minutes before using.
- Oil the grilling rack to prevent the swordfish skewers from sticking to it.
- Once preheated, reduce the heat so that the flame just barely rises above the coals.
- Season the swordfish skewers and place them on your grill.
- Make sure the bamboo skewers are hanging over the edge of the grill and not over direct heat.
- Even if the skewers were soaked in water overnight they still might get scorched by the flame causing them to break or burn.
- Turn the skewers carefully to grill the opposite side. I sometimes use a grill spatula to do this just to make sure the braciole do not fall apart while turning them.
The key is to have the grill smoldering, not roaring with flame. The flames should not scorch the fish at all! This way you’ll have one very delicious and different.