Swordfish Sicilian Style
Pesce Spada alla
Pisci Spata Cunzatu
My mother, who specialized in frying, prepared the swordfish, sliced ½
inch thick, pan fried usually 4 to 5 minutes on each side and served with lemon’s wedges and potato salad.
swordfish at the Focacceria Palermitana, we followed our father’s recipe that he claimed was truly “alla
Siciliana” or Sicilian style: we briefly fried the slices of floured swordfish, sprinkled the steaks with a
delicate sauce to enhance its taste and savor, and baked for a few minutes.
This sauce was
made not to overwhelm the mild flavored flesh of the swordfish; however it had a definitive Sicilian accent due
to the presence of capers, olives, raisins and pine nuts, which inspired my father to call it Sicilian
Sicilian Style was very successful as well a convenient and easy dish to prepare. In fact the sauce can be
prepared ahead of time, the swordfish can be fried a few hours in advance, assembled at the last minute, quickly
baked and served fresh hot from the oven to our customers.
recommendation is to use fresh and wholesome fish and not spoil it by overcooking or by adding too much
At home the
sauce can be prepared in advance and kept refrigerated up to 2 days; the swordfish can be fried in the morning
and then assembled and baked at the last moment, giving time to prepare the rest of your meal and any other
4 slices of swordfish (6 oz. each ¾ “
flour for dusting
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil for frying (peanut,
corn or canola oil)
salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE SAUCE
3 tablespoons of olive oil -
1 small onion, finely
1 garlic clove minced
4 inches of a stalk of celery chopped
8 pitted black olives cut in
1 minced anchovy
1 ½ tablespoons of minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons of drained
2 tablespoons of pine nuts
2 tablespoons of raisins
pinch of oregano
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
4 bay leaves
Rinse the swordfish steaks in running water and pat them dry with paper
Place the flour in a wide dish; dredge both sides into the flour and shake off the
In a large skillet (12 ½ inch wide) place 2tablespoons of oil and over a
high heat sauté the fish cooking it in batches. Fry each side for 3 minutes. Transfer to drain onto a dish
covered with paper towels: set aside and sprinkle with pepper and a little salt. Repeat the process until all
the steaks are fried; add more oil if needed. Cover with aluminum foil and keep refrigerated until ready to
Soak the raisins in hot water.
Discard frying oil and in the same skillet, over a medium heat place 2 tablespoons of olive oil
and the onion. When the onion is light golden in color, add in the garlic and the celery. Sauté for a few
minutes and increase the heat to high; add in the olives, anchovy, 1 tablespoon of parsley, capers, pine
nuts, drained raisins, and the oregano, stirring continuously. Add the wine and keep at a high until most of
the alcohol evaporates, about 1 or 2 minutes; add the water, adjust for salt, and lower the heat to a simmer.
Cook the sauce for additional 5 minutes or reduce it until it reaches a good consistency. Should the sauce
get too dry add some water by the spoon full a little at a time.
Transfer into a bowl, cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use. It can be prepared in
advance and kept refrigerated up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Coat a baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil; place the fried swordfish
steaks onto the tray, place a bay leaf on top of each steak and cover the fish with the sauce.
Bake for 10 minutes until the steaks are cooked through. Transfer the fish into a serving plate; remove bay leaves,
spoon over any sauce form the pan and garnish with the remaining ½ tablespoon of parsley.
The swordfish Sicilian style goes well with a
potato salad dressed with olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice, salt, pepper, a pinch of oregano, parsley
and 2 hard boiled sliced eggs (optional).
Serve with hot, soft and chewy bread, for mopping any sauce at the bottom of the plate and
pair this delicacy with a young Sicilian or Californian Chardonnay wine or if a red wine is preferred a Nero di
Avola from Sicily or Pinot Noir from
the Napa Valley.