Delicious grilled swordfish steaks seared over fire on your outdoor barbecue grill. Prepared with a simple lemon and garlic marinade, this light seafood dinner recipe is ready in under an hour.
You might not see grilled swordfish often on a restaurant’s menu, but that does not mean you can’t cook it up in your home! Swordfish is an amazing option for anyone who wants to try seafood but isn’t sure about the fishy flavors. Read further to learn more about buying, preparing, and serving grilled swordfish.
Swordfish Steak Explained
Swordfish are found in Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean waters, and are classified as oily fish. Its meat is protein-rich and is a great source of B12, zinc, and Omega 3. You can find pre-cut swordfish steaks at your local fish counter or frozen steaks at your grocery store to thaw at home. Swordfish steaks are made from the white flesh of the fish, and there should be very little red or brown in the meat and no skin on your steak.
A swordfish steak is mild-tasting and has a meaty texture. Reddish areas in a steak have a strong flavor and are typically trimmed off. This is a great option for those who aren’t sure they like the taste of fish, as it is not overly fishy. It is one of the meatiest fish available which makes it appealing for non-fish eaters as well.
Swordfish steak is perfect for grilling because of its hearty texture and mildly sweet flavor. It will not break apart on the grill like other delicate fish, and it pairs well with marinades and sauces. You can also stew swordfish easily as it will not dissolve in a broth. It is not recommended to deep-fry because of its hardiness.
How to Buy Swordfish Steaks
When looking for swordfish steaks to buy, your best bet is to buy fresh from a fish counter. If you are buying frozen swordfish steaks, be sure the reddish areas are not brown. Browning indicates that the swordfish is old. Swordfish steaks should be firm and lean and be 1 inch in thickness.
Swordfish is in season from May to December and is typically caught off the coast of California. They often have limited availability due to their placement on Greenpeace International’s Red List Fish.
Be aware that the FDA recommends that young children, pregnant women, and women of child-bearing age do not eat swordfish as it contains high levels of methylmercury.
How to Prepare Swordfish Steaks for Grilling
If you bought frozen swordfish steaks, you will need to let them thaw before cooking. The best way to do this is to place it in your refrigerator overnight. Once your steaks thaw, trim off any excess fat or red areas.
As mentioned above, swordfish steaks pair great with marinades. There are hundreds of marinade recipes you can use, but the process for preparing the swordfish to grill is similar across the board. After you’ve mixed your marinade, place the steaks in the marinade for at least 15-30 minutes.
Times and Temperatures
When grilling swordfish it is recommended to treat it as you would cook a rare steak. Use high heat to sear on one side for about 5 to 6 minutes, then turn it over to grill the other for 3 minutes or so (considering this is a 1-inch steak).
Unfortunately, feeling the outside of the steak will not tell you if the steak is cooked thoroughly. A well-cooked swordfish steak will be browned on one side and very light pink on the inside. By the time the steak is served, the steak will be fully cooked through. The texture should flake easily when touched with a fork but still retain its initial firmness. The internal temperature of a safe-to-eat swordfish steak is between 130 to 135°F after resting.
How to Grill Swordfish Steaks
To begin, allow your grill to heat up for 5 to 10 minutes. Once it reaches a temperature where you can’t hold your hand over the coals for more than a second or two, you’re ready to grill. Place the steak over direct heat on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Then flip the steak over and grill for another 3 minutes.
If you check the internal temperature and it is not high enough, continue cooking on the most recent side until you reach the desired temperature. To avoid over-cooking, keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook off the grill until it has fully rested.
How to Reheat Grilled Swordfish
You can reheat seafood up to and including four days after it has been cooked. If your marinade has garlic or onions in it, the meal may even taste better the second time!
When reheating seafood, avoid using a microwave. Microwaves often dry out leftover fish and make it tough or rubbery. If you do have to use a microwave, add a bit of water and leave the cover on. You should also expect an unpleasant fishy smell to linger in your microwave for a little while.
Using an oven is the best way to reheat seafood. You’ll want to use it at a low temperature to avoid breaking down the fatty oils that keep it moist. The recommended temperature to use is 275°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the leftover swordfish on a lightly greased baking sheet. Like the microwave, be sure to add a splash of water (or leftover marinade) and cover it with foil.
Below are two commonly asked questions about grilling swordfish.
Do You Flip Swordfish on the Grill?
Yes, you will want to flip your swordfish steak while grilling. This will ensure the steak is cooked thoroughly and both sides have a crispy, flakey texture.
Why Was My Grilled Swordfish Mushy?
Unlike other popular seafood dishes, swordfish does not have to be tiptoed around while preparing it. Swordfish is best grilled quickly and at high heat. If it is cooked slowly, its cathepsins (enzymes) break down the proteins that hold its muscle fibers together, leaving it soft and mushy.
- 2 swordfish steaks trimmed and thawed
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 tbsp virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon juice of
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, add the marinade ingredients (minced garlic, virgin olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt, and ground black pepper). Whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the marinade into a large ziplock bag. Add the swordfish steaks and cover well. Place in refrigerator and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Fire up grill to high, about 450°F (230°C). Allow to heat up for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove swordfish steaks from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place swordfish steaks on grill grates directly over heat. Grill for 5 minutes, then flip over and cook for 3 further minutes. When ready to serve, the swordfish should be flaky but firm, and internal temperature should be 130-135°F (54-57°C).