Swordfish (also known as broadbills), are large predatory fish that are made distinct by their huge, long, and flat-pointed bills. They are generally at the top of their food chain, a carnivorous creature feeding on smaller fish like barracudas.
Despite common mythology, they likely do not use their large facial swords for undersea combat or for spearing their prey, it is more likely that they use it both for aerodynamics and to slice or slash obstacles or the occasional prey.
While they are usually at the top of their food chain, they aren’t on top of ours.
So if you were wondering if you can eat a swordfish – the answer is yes, and people do eat swordfish all the time. These fish are often seen as a luxurious delicacy, often served in fine dining restaurants throughout the United States. The varied, nutritious, and carnivorous diet of the broadbill give them a unique, delicate, and meaty taste and mouthfeel, and are a highly desirable dinner. Swordfish are served all around the world, cooked, and prepared in various ways and even eaten raw in some places!
If you want the full, comprehensive answer to the question “can you eat a swordfish”, read one!
In this article we will take you through the benefits of eating swordfish, the potential downsides (and debunk some claims made about mercury in swordfish), examine what swordfish might taste like, and then give you a look at how to prepare a swordfish in a delicious, tantalizing way!
Benefits of eating swordfish
There are several benefits to the consumption of swordfish, which will be outlined in this next section.
Firstly, swordfish is incredibly high in protein. That is not the only nutrient it is rich in, though. This fish contains a hearty supply of selenium – a micronutrient vital in helping build resistances to cancer and making your heart healthier. This is accompanied by a whole host of great omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and niacin.
Alongside these brilliant and beneficial nutrients, swordfish is very low in fats and sugars, making it an excellent central protein in diets aimed at losing weight and gaining muscle.
Another benefit is it is delicious, and also that there are concerted efforts on sustainable farming swordfish. Thankfully, this means you can enjoy this fantastic and unusual protein without too much concern for a negative environmental impact!
Problems with eating swordfish
One of the chief concerns that arises a lot online with the consumption of this broad billed fish is that of mercury content. Swordfish contains 0.995 parts per million of mercury, which is admittedly higher than a few other fish of its type like Marlin.
However, the claims that many articles decrying swordfish for its mercury content do tend to be slightly exaggerated. The one linked above discusses the dangers of repeated dosages of mercury in swordfish as a regular dietary staple increasing your intake dramatically. This misunderstands the place that swordfish has in most people’s diets: the occasional delicacy, not a main staple.
In spite of that, it is worth noting that pregnant people are advised to not eat swordfish. There are some studies that link the intake of high levels of mercury while pregnant with potential developmental issues in newborn babies. As such, if you are a pregnant person who is concerned about the wellbeing of their future child it is worth not eating swordfish.
What does swordfish taste like?
Properly prepared swordfish should be delicious. It is a mild, sweet, fatty fish that is often compared in texture to a rare beef steak.
This texture is dense, moist, and when properly cooked it will not flake apart like red snapper or salmon. A knife is required to slice this fish properly. It is often used as a fish to introduce those who do not normally like fish because it has a less fishy flavor than anchovies or sardines.
The flavor is stronger than tuna, mahi mahi, and Marlin. Its texture is still nice when raw, and tastes great as part of a ceviche, carpaccio, or even entirely raw in sushi form.
When selecting your cut of swordfish, if you can see red dots in the flesh then do not choose it. The red dots indicate that the meat will be much tougher than usual, and may not be a pleasant bite to eat.
Best Swordfish Recipes
There are some brilliant recipes for this delicate, steak-like fish available online. For the purposes of this article, we have collated two really interesting ones that treat the fish radically differently. First, there is a recipe for preparing a raw, ceviche-style swordfish that will stun guests at a dinner party as an appetizer.
Following that we have a delicious and decadent recipe treating the fish like a prime cut of steak – pan seared with a special compound butter.
- First things first: slice your cut of swordfish very, very thinly. You do not want this to be too hard for your guests to eat properly. Aim for nearly a millimeter thick if possible, two at most. Think sashimi.
- Swordfish is an incredibly fatty fish, so it needs some accompaniment. First, heavily whisk some lime juice and olive oil together, potentially adding some Dijon mustard if you are having trouble emulsifying the mixture.
- Drizzle this over your sliced swordfish sashimi.
- Sprinkle white pepper and some flaky sea salt on top.
- Garnish with some fresh parsley and some incredibly thinly sliced red chili pepper.
Swordfish Steaks and Peppercorn Butter
- Make sure you buy some thick loins of swordfish.
- Prepare your pan. Choose a cast iron or another kind of heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pan. Add a thin layer of olive oil and heat it to medium.
- Pre-heat your oven to 00 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mash some butter, parsley, garlic, half a teaspoon of mixed peppercorns and lemon peel to a compound butter in a bowl. Season as you like with salt.
- Heavily season your swordfish with salt and pepper (think a nice cut of sirloin to give you a seasoning reference point here)
- Cook the swordfish on one side to a hard sear for three minutes. Flip the fish, then add the pan to the oven to roast for a further 10 minutes.
- Take out the pan and transfer the swordfish to their plates to rest.
- Add the compound butter to the pan and cook on medium high until melting and bubbling (trying to deglaze the bottom of the pan if possible). Pour over your swordfish.
- Enjoy. This step will not be too difficult.