julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

What’s a Pirate’s Favorite Fish?…SWORD Fish!

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“I knew that my dear husband has suffered silently lo these many years with my relative distaste for all things fishy, and though now were on a more expansive path, I thought he deserved a big thick fish steak.” – Julie Powell 

One of things Julia Child urges users of MtAoFC to do is to read through an entire recipe before beginning the cooking process. Apparently by “read” she doesn’t mean “skim”…because if she did, I wouldn’t have been blindsided by the second page of last night’s recipe for Thon a la Provencale (swordfish steaks with wine, tomatoes and herbs) wherein I learned an hour into the marinating of the fish that in addition to browning the meat on the stove for a couple of minutes on each side, I also needed to put it in the oven for 15 minutes – and then again for another 30.

Swordfish Steaks

So it was a late dinner for us last night, but delicious nonetheless. Let’s back up and start at the very beginning…a very good place to start. Over the weekend, we bought a large swordfish steak from our favorite grocery store and have been looking forward to giving it a try ever since. Do you know how much a swordfish steak costs? $19. For one steak. Yeowza!! (You know, the more I cook, the greater my appreciation for people who invite friends over for a nice home-made dinner.) So we opted to buy just one steak and share it between the two of us – after all, what if we didn’t like it? I’d rather not spend $40 to learn that swordfish is not high on my list.

First things first, I removed the skin from the meat – which was SUPER easy with our new knives!! (Nothing at all like the infamous butchering of the rainbow trout, rest its fishy soul.) I cut the meat in half, then put it in a marinade of salt, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper. In a wax paper-covered baking dish, it sat in the fridge for about an hour and a half, coming out for the occasional basting and flipping.

Cooking down the tomatoes and onions.

When the kitchen timer went off, I took the dish out of the fridge and removed the meat, draining all the marinade into the sink. I dried the fish with paper towels, then sauted it in a pan with very hot olive oil until each side was lightly browned. I set the fish back into the baking dish, then cooked some minced yellow onion and tomato pulp in the same pan, adding some mashed garlic, seasoning and herbs. I covered the pan and cooked the contents slowly for about 5 minutes, and when I took the lid off, I couldn’t believe how yummy the vegetable mixture smelled. I spread it over the fish in the baking dish and popped the whole thing in the oven for 15 minutes. When time was up, I added some vermouth to the dish, lowered the oven temp to 325 and put the meal back in for another thirty minutes.

Green Beans

While waiting for the meat to finish cooking, I worked on our side dish: Julia’s recommended boiled potatoes and green beans. I didn’t see a recipe for the potatoes in The Book, so I just boiled them in a pot until they were tender. I did, however, find a good recipe for green beans, Haricots Verts a la Maitre d’Hotel (buttered green beans with lemon juice and parsley). These were really easy – snap the ends of the beans off, toss ’em into a  pot of boiling water (with a little bit of salt) and cook until slightly crisp. Drain them, put them in a pan on the stove to evaporate any moisture, then toss with butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Ta-daa! Done!

When the fish was done cooking, I took it out of the oven and removed the foil from the top – everything looked perfect! I scraped the tomato sauce off the fish and moved the steaks to a separate plate. (The meat was so tender, it began to fall apart when I tried to use tongs, so I’d recommend using a spatula.) Next it was time to finish the sauce…YUM! I boiled the tomatoes and onions in their juices and stirred in some tomato paste and a mixture of butter and flour. The sauce was really thickening up now, and the aroma wafting from the pan was incredible! I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

Swordfish dinner

I served each steak on a plate, topped with the tomato sauce. Beside the meat was a boiled potato and a helping of the green beans…this was one of the best looking dishes I’d made so far! The meat was perfect, and the sauce on top almost gave it an Italian flavor, with so much tomato goodness. The green beans were terrific – that little hint of lemon juice gave it the slightest bit of tanginess that really made a subtle yet wonderful difference.

All in all, we give swordfish two thumbs up! And the sauce seemed like it would be great over fish or possibly even with noodles – we’ll have to give it a try when we’re feeling more daring.

Bon appetit!


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2 Responses to “What’s a Pirate’s Favorite Fish?…SWORD Fish!”

  1. Gwen Frazier says:

    I too love swordfish and I will suggest trying shark as a more economical substitute using the same cooking technique!! Shark has the same texture at a much lower price tag!! I will try your recipe!!

  2. Melody says:

    I really would have thought a pirate’s favorite fish was AAARRRRRctic Cod.

    Nyuk nyuk nyuk!

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