Last time I bought fish at a supermarket I got a very fishy piece of wild salmon. This time, at a different store, with a different fish, I had a much better experience. This was an unexpected purchase, I was out of town on work errands when I decided to do some “research” at a Shaw’s Supermarket. The fish counter at this particular store was much better looking than the two Shaw’s back home and with no line, I was able to snoop around and look at all the labels on the seafood. Sourcing information was there on the labels for cod, haddock, halibut, salmon and the like…you just needed a magnifying glass to read it!
The very friendly and talkative attendant was very upfront in how little he knew about fish, I think by the end I taught him a few things. It seemed a little early in the season for swordfish, but the label at the fish counter said it was fresh, Canadian swordfish. Their longline season technically begins in April so maybe it was an early season fish. It did say “fresh” and not “previously frozen” which you can tell by looking at the so-called “bloodline” that runs through the fish. It’s not blood, it a part of muscle that is rich in myoglobin that runs the length of the entire fish. When frozen, that red or pink color will turn to black, which is a telltale sign of a previously frozen fish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if you see “fresh” swordfish at your seafood counter that has a black bloodline, it better say “previously frozen.”
Considering what some of the other swordfish I’ve seen lately looks like, these steaks looked really good. My wife recently got burned (freezer burned that is) ordering grilled swordfish at one of our local restaurants, so I wanted to push that experience out of her memory. I got two steaks that weighed just under a pound and a half. I could tell from the cut that it was a smaller fish, taken from the right side, closer to the tail section. The meat wasn’t slimy, or grayish, the bloodline was not dark from age or freezer burn. It had a nice pleasant swordfish smell, not fishy, but a briny aroma that reminded me of the glory days when me and my drunken buddies were cutting our own steaks off the swordfish “bullets.” Ahhh….good times….
It wasn’t warm enough just yet for me to climb the stairs to the grill, so I roasted it in the oven the way my wife likes it.
Roast Swordfish with Lemon-Tarragon Butter
- 2 Swordfish steaks
- Half-stick of butter
- Chopped fresh tarragon
- 1-2 large lemons and zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Handful of seasoned breadcrumbs or Ritz crackers (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. Melt butter and combine with the tarragon, lemon zest and about 1/4 of the juice. Season your steaks well with salt and pepper and put on a greased foil-lined baking sheet. Brush the butter on top of the steaks liberally. If you like, top with seasoned breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs and drizzle a bit more butter on top. Roast for about 20-25 minutes depending upon thickness of the steaks. Serve with lemon wedges.
Note: I find it tough to remove the bloodline before cooking, I separate the steaks but leave it otherwise intact and remove once it’s done.
After about 23 minutes it was done just the way we like it in our house. I must say it came out exactly the way I wanted it: The swordfish was thick and juicy, without a trace of freezer burn or fishy taste that would make me think it was actually last year’s fish. It may have been an early season fish after all, it tasted too good not to be. The butter, tarragon, lemon and cracker crumbs always works well. I was not so heavy-handed as I often am, so nothing overpowered the great taste of the swordfish.
So I probably won’t be buying fish from this particular supermarket on a regular basis, but it is good to know I can pick up some good-looking seafood here in a pinch. However the organization really needs to make their sourcing labels easier to read, and an informed service person behind the counter would be helpful as well. I had a great conversation with the counter person, but it doesn’t inspire confidence when I’m teaching the fish dealer how to cook swordfish