June 29, 2013 – My wife flew to Las Vegas. It was 115 degrees Fahrenheit when she landed. She probably would have refused to deplane except she was there for a bachelorette party. The bride-to-be is the daughter of a close friend. So my wife ran from one air conditioned building to another. She had a great time.
That left me alone for the weekend. When I’m alone for the weekend I go to the kitchen and start experimenting. Well, I do that when my wife is here also but when she’s gone I can experiment with things that she doesn’t like. This weekend it would be swordfish and pasta.
Swordfish because my wife doesn’t care for it and she wouldn’t be here to eat it.
Pasta because I have been reading recently about cooking pasta in the style known as strascicata. It’s the way Mario Batali cooks pasta. Instead of cooking the pasta completely in salted boiling water and then tossing it with a sauce as most Americans do, the strascicata method, which is thoroughly Italian, removes the pasta from the boiling water shortly before completion of the cooking time recommended on the package. It’s transferred to the pan with the sauce and the cooking process is completed in the sauce itself. This method more completely combines pasta and sauce.
Here’s the trick: Be sure there is plenty of liquid in the sauce for the pasta to absorb. Otherwise you’ll wind up just frying the pasta. Not good. Adding some of the water in which the pasta has been cooking to the sauce will produce a more pleasant result.
I used one swordfish steak for this dish though it made enough to feed two. Swordfish steaks usually come about an inch thick and weigh between three-quarters of a pound and a pound. Cut in half and served with pasta that’s a nice serving size.
I first thought I would cut the raw fish into small pieces, sauté it quickly before removing it from the pan to make the sauce, adding it back to the sauce just prior to serving. But swordfish is a very meaty fish, easily overcooked and not all that tasty when it is. Cutting it into small pieces would just make it easier to overcook. I decided it would be better to cook the steak whole, then lay it on top of the pasta for serving. Good decision.
Swordfish Steak on Linguini with Caper-Tomato Sauce
1 swordfish steak (3/4 lb – 1 lb) 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons capers ½ lb linguini
4 tomatoes, chopped ¼ cup parsley, chopped
Zest & juice of 1 lemon ¼ cup basil, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced Salt & pepper to taste
Warm two tablespoons of olive oil over high heat in a heavy skillet. Season the swordfish steak with salt and pepper. Cook it for about five minutes on one side. Turn and cook three minutes more on the other side. Remove from the pan and tent with foil.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, reducing the heat to medium high. Add the capers and tomatoes. Let them cook down for two to three minutes. Add lemon zest, garlic, fennel seeds and chili flakes, (if desired). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another two minutes. Remove from the heat.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the directions on the package. Two minutes short of the cooking time suggested on the package, transfer the pasta, along with ¼ cup of the water in which it’s been cooking, to the sauce, returning the pan with the combined sauce and pasta to medium high heat. Stirring to thoroughly combine the pasta with the sauce, cook it for another two minutes. If the sauce begins to look dry, add more water.
Toss in the parsley and basil, squeeze the lemon juice into the sauce and stir to mix well.
To serve, place nests of pasta onto plates. Lay half of the swordfish steak on each bed of pasta. Spoon some of the sauce over the swordfish.