We’re into the final week of our month-long sojourn here at the Western Headquarters of the Circle B Kitchen. The California Central Coast has totally lived up to its reputation these past weeks as a “summer in winter” outpost. While our people back home in the Midwest are freezing their arses off, we have walked on sun-drenched beaches and basked in 70-degree sun-soaked days until it has begun to feel almost normal. But in another week we will be trading in our t-shirts for down jackets and returning to winter. I have to say that it’s not only the sun we will be missing when we leave, but the glorious array of very fresh fish that has become a fixture of our culinary life here.
There’s a little market here in town that, even though it doesn’t specialize in seafood, the proprietor knows his stuff. He buys his fish whole and fillets it himself, which totally increases the freshness quotient, which being minutes from the ocean means we’re talkin’ really fresh.
When I saw this swordfish in there the other day, and he mentioned it was caught locally and had only just come in a couple of hours earlier, it wasn’t like I even had a choice…if you can get swordfish this fresh, there is nothing else like it in the world. Nothing. It literally just melts in your mouth.
Of course, when you get a beautiful piece of fish like this, the last thing you want to do is overcook it. We mostly love to grill our swordfish, but not having an outdoor grill set up, I opted to use my grill pan on the stove.
Here’s how I do it and it comes out perfect every time… get your grill pan (or grill) screamin’ hot, baste your swordfish steaks with butter and lime juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear the fish 3 minutes on each side,
then remove from the heat, cover with a foil pan, lid or some such thing, and let it sit off the heat for another 5-6 minutes. The residual heat will finish cooking the fish without overcooking or drying it out. Perfection, I tell you.
Then you get to top it with this gorgeous provencal sauce that is so good you will find yourself “tasting” it quite often, using a very large spoon, until you abruptly notice there is barely enough left for the fish. I may or may not have done that.
Our days here in the California sun may be dwindling down to a precious few, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t necessarily be just the sunshine I’ll be missing when we leave.
Grilled Swordfish with Provencal Sauce
(4) 6-oz swordfish steaks
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1/4 cup butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce:
3 large plum tomatoes
3 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Blanch the tomatoes by plunging them into a pot of simmering salted water for 15-30 seconds, then plunging them into ice water for 1 minute. Drain the tomatoes and peel off and discard the skin. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, remove the core, seeds, and dice the flesh.
In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, shallots, tarragon, basil, and chives. In another bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and salt to taste. Add to the tomato mixture, mix well and set aside.
Heat your grill or grill pan until it is quite hot.
Mix together the melted butter, lime juice, salt and pepper. Brush each swordfish steak with the butter mixture. Place the swordfish on the grill and cook for 3 minutes. Baste with more of the butter mixture and turn the steaks, cooking for another 3 minutes. Remove the swordfish from the heat and, cover with a foil pan or lid and let sit off the heat for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking.
To serve, top each swordfish steak with some of the provencal sauce.