A king of the seas, where it uses its long bill to slash at prey, the swordfish also reigns supreme on the grill. Its slightly sweet flavor and firm flesh make it the ideal fish for grilling. Dial back the times used for other white fish to avoid drying out swordfish -- about 7 to 8 minutes per inch of thickness work better than the typical 10 minutes. A ¾-inch swordfish steak, for example, may only require 3 minutes per side on the grill.
Why They Dry Out
Active swimmers such as swordfish, other billfish and tuna display different enzyme profiles than sedentary fish such as cod, notes food scientist Harold McGee. Hence their flesh cooks differently, with little tolerance for overcooking. Focus closely on swordfish during its brief time on the grill to get it perfect.
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Testing the Swordfish
Engage all your senses as well as kitchen tools to perfect swordfish grilling. While a clock provides a guide, a digital thermometer can help you fine-tune the process. The Department of Agriculture recommends cooking most seafood to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit; however, McGee.contends that swordfish remains most succulent at an internal temperature of 120 to 125 F, unlike other fish that remain moist at 130 to 140 F. Perfectly grilled swordfish also smells cooked, with opaque flesh that feels slightly springy when handled with tongs.
- The Grilling Encyclopedia: An A-to-Z Compendium of How to Grill Almost Anything; Atlantic Monthly Press
- Weeknight Grilling with the BBQ Queens; Karen Adler, Judith M. Fertig
- On Food and Cooking: Harold McGee
- The Way to Cook; Julia Child
- Food Safety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- Arkive: Swordfish (Xiphias Gladius)