Swordfish for Summer Grilling

Xiphias gladius is the only member of the family Xiphiidae. Swordfish are found in the world’s ocean especially in warm and temperate waters. It is a game fish and prized in many cuisines of the world but probably none more so than in the Mediterranean, most especially Sicily. It can be as large as 1,000 pounds and fifteen feet long, but 150 to 300 pounds is more typical. The firm flesh of swordfish is perfect for grilling. In this Sicilian-inspired recipe the swordfish steak is brushed with fresh orange juice and fresh thyme and is a perfect grilled dish for summer.

Grilled Swordfish with Orange
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Recipe type: Grilled Seafood
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: 4
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 3 oranges
  • 1 large bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 or 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Four 6-ounce swordfish steaks, ¾ inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a ceramic or glass baking pan, swish the olive oil, orange juice, bay leaf, and garlic until mixed. Place the swordfish steaks in the marinade and coat with the thyme and salt and pepper and leave for 2 hours, turning after the first hour.
  2. Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill on high for 20 minutes.
  3. Grill the swordfish on the hottest part of the grill, directly over the coals or burner and grill until almost springy to the touch, 6 to 8 minutes in all, basting with the leftover marinade and turning carefully only once. Remove from the grill and serve.


Breakfast in Tunisia

The great undiscovered culinary Shangri-La of the Mediterranean in my mind is Algeria and Tunisia. Algeria has been off limits for some 25 years because of the civil war which erupted in the early 1990s, and Tunisia was the initiator of the Arab Spring some years ago and has always been more popular with Europeans than Americans. I traveled a bit in Tunisia in the 1990s and one of my favorite dishes was the Tunisian breakfast preparation called lablābī. It is a breakfast stew made with chickpeas, broth, tomatoes, and various toppings such as capers, cumin, harīsa, and coddled eggs.  The word lablābī is interesting.  It is an archaic Arabic word that refers to the hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab L.), a bean native to India that is also known as the Egyptian or black bean. The word lablābī may not be originally Arabic; it possibly derives from the Turkish word for “roasted chickpea.” Lablābī is unknown among the Arabs of the eastern Arab world. Lablābī is a favorite winter morning breakfast for stevedores in Tunis.  Throughout the city it is a morning offering in the small hole-in-the-wall cook shops. The actual soup is very simple and it’s depth of flavor derives from the garnishes you decide to use.  As a tourist you will come home wanting lablābī in the morning; that’s how seductive it is.

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See above for the link to making your own harīsa.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Tunisian
Serves: 4
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons harīsa (see link above)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Optional garnishes, to taste:
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Coddled eggs
  • Seeded and finely chopped green bell pepper
  • Chopped very ripe tomatoes
  • Dollops of harīsa
  • Capers, rinsed
  • Pickled turnips
  • Croûtons
  • Finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves
  • Leftover bread, any kind, ripped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Place the chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil until soft, about 30 minutes, then stir in the harīsa, garlic, cumin, and salt. Stir well, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and olive oil. Serve with more lemon juice, salt, and ground cumin to taste. Serve with any combination and any amount of optional garnishes, including more harīsa and olive oil.


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