There’s something unforgettable about the taste of fresh swordfish pulled from the water and grilled to perfection. For Cosmo Goss, chef, California native and seafood expert, preparing swordfish as a meal can mean everything from having the option to eat it raw or pulling out all of the stops and grilling a whole 150-pound swordfish, head and all, for hours. To accomplish this Goss first wrapped the fish in chicken wire, before serving it at a festival in the form of swordfish and pork belly tacos!
“You get to know within the first two bites whether you did a good job or not, or if we did a good job as a team,” Goss says, adding that it also requires multiple attempts to perfect recipes. Goss pulls his expertise from a variety of experiences—his Italian grandmother’s recipes; culinary school; working on a dive boat at 18 where he cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 to 40 people. Of course, experiences like eating scallops freshly plucked from the ocean floor while aboard his father’s 42′ Riviera. Fishing experience and time on the ocean, provide culinary inspiration that’s hard to find elsewhere.
“I just never turned back, that’s all I know now,” Goss says. Through it all, Goss focuses on being an innovative player within the open playing field that is cooking. Cosmo’s innovation extends to swordfish, a fish Goss describes as fairly forgiving and more “meaty” than “fishy.”
Cosmo’s preference would be a west coast, “pumpkin swordfish.” The orangish hue of the meat of a pumpkin swordfish results from a diet of crustaceans—it also imparts a special flavor. During the cooking process, he aims to have swordfish that is medium-well and juicy but with a whisper of pink inside.
Though his favorite swordfish is caught in the Pacific, his preferred method of preparing it is Mediterranean in origin—Acqua Pazza. It’s an Italian term meaning crazy water and consists of a spicy pepper stew-based swordfish that Goss has made for years. “Swordfish has that texture of fish cheek: meaty unctuous, rich,” Goss says. “I don’t think there’s a meatier fish in the ocean than swordfish.”
Goss has also found inspiration with the changes in the year, using what is in season to guide his swordfish recipes. For example, during autumn, he’ll incorporate roasted squash with pomegranate sauce on the side, any fall fruits and vegetables, noting that “if it grows together, if it’s in season together, it usually is going to work together.”
And pairing swordfish with a drink? With acqua pazza, a crisp white wine. However, a chenin blanc with spicy swordfish is particularly good. But on a boat, nothing beats an ice-cold beer. “It depends where you are,” Goss says while adding that there is also an equal enjoyment from a meal with loved ones, drinks or not. “I think it’s really important to spend time with your friends and family. I love cooking meals for my wife…every day it’s something I look forward to.”
While you can find plenty of acqua pazza recipes online, it can be hard to whip up a swordfish stew on a boat. Cosmo also provided his take on a go-to classic: grilled swordfish. He even breaks down some sauce and bread options, if you want to go all out.
Grilled Swordfish with Spicy Tomato, Grilled Bread & Salsa Verde
4ea 5-6 oz. swordfish filets
1/3 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
1 recipe tomato sauce
1⁄2 cup chicken stock
1 pint grilled bread croutons
1⁄4 cup salsa verde
1 tbsp. butter
Rice bran oil (or other high heat oil)
How to Make It: Preheat your grill, Cosmo notes that he prefers wood but “if you’re on a boat that’s a bad idea for obvious reasons.” Lightly coat each fillet with mayonnaise and season with salt. Grill the fish over medium-high heat. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side, turning the fillets a quarter turn in the middle of cooking each side. You want to cook the fish to medium-well, so still a little pink inside.
While the swordfish is on the grill, place high rimmed saute pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the tomato sauce and chicken stock and bring the mixture up to a simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Add the butter and croutons and mix well making sure not to break up the croutons.
Taste the sauce and season with salt as needed. Take the swordfish from the grill and place on a serving platter. Pour the tomato-bread sauce on and around the fish. Garnish with salsa verde.
If you’re really feeling your oats and you want to go all out, Chef Cosmo breaks down how to make your sides from scratch too. This might come in handy if you’re trying to impress someone…
1⁄2 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 (28oz) can tomatoes
1 chile flake
3 cups water
1/3 cup basil leaves
1qt tuscan kale (chopped and stems removed)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Place a medium sauce pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook until the garlic is very fragrant, about two minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, water and chile flake. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook until about four cups remain, about 30-40 minutes. Add the basil and season with salt. Add the kale and chicken stock and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with the vinegar and let cool.
Grilled Bread Croutons
1 small loaf sourdough (cut in half, crust removed)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove
Take the bread and coat with olive oil and season with a little salt. Grill the pieces on all sides until very charred all over. Remove and rub evenly with the garlic clove. Tear the two large chunks into bite size pieces and let sit out for at least 2 hours before using. Letting them sit out overnight works well too.
Salsa Verde Base
Makes about 1 cup
4 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
5 brown anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons honey
1 small jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and ribs removed, minced
Mix the shallots, capers, anchovies, vinegar, oil, honey, jalapeño, and salt in a bowl. The salsa will keep, covered, in the fridge for about a week. *When serving the salsa verde mix in 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro to each 1/4 cup of salsa verde base.
Chef Cosmo’s Pan Roasted Swordfish
4ea 5-6oz fillets swordfish
2 cups guacamole
2 cups pico de gallo
8-12 flour or corn tortillas
2 limes (cut in wedges)
2t chile powder
2t garlic powder
Rice bran oil (or other high heat oil)
“This one is simple and is great to make on the boat,” Cosmo explains. Store-bought salsa and guacamole can be used, or you can make your own. Season the fish with salt, chile powder and garlic powder. Place a large high rimmed sauté pan on a burner or the stove over high heat and add a thin layer of rice bran oil. Once the oil is almost smoking, add the swordfish fillets to the pan gently agitating the pan so the fish doesn’t stick. Cook until the first side of the fillets are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
Flip the fish and turn the heat down to medium and cook for another 3-6 minutes until the fish is cooked 3/4 or medium-well. Remove and serve with the guacamole, salsa, limes & tortillas. You can add any other favorite taco toppings to the mix as well.
An East Coast Head Liner on Cooking Swordfish
On the Atlantic side of the country, Jim Koch, head chef at New Jersey’s Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grill, can be found in the kitchen cooking up new seafood specials that would delight any foodie. Thanks to being on the water, with a plentiful supply of fish coming from the Atlantic, Koch’s team is able to serve dishes, from tuna to swordfish, fresh.
“We’re lucky enough that it comes in fresh off the local boats,” Koch said. “It’s caught yesterday, on the table today; it makes a big difference.”
With the fish in the kitchen, Koch then gets to work bringing some creativity to the recipes, something he’s enjoyed since his early days as a chef. He was first introduced to the world of cooking as a high schooler in Atlantic City where his father ran a hotel. Koch filled in wherever he was needed—from dishwasher to cook. It was bouncing between the hotel’s dining rooms, and speaking to the chefs, that he began to absorb everything going on. Describing himself as “enthralled and impressed” with what went on in the kitchens, Koch soon found himself pouring through food magazines and watching cooking
After graduating college, he worked in the hotel industry but continued to cook as his second job. It was not long before he realized he was most passionate about cooking, and, around the age of 30, he headed to culinary school. “I really had to start all over again, start at the bottom as a fry cook in the Jersey Shore area,” Koch said.
A chance to cook in Bermuda opened a new door and paved the way for becoming an expert in seafood cooking techniques that he would later bring back to the US. It was upon his return home that he created his claim to fame and a springboard to making more experimental seafood: a strawberry barbecue salmon.
“It’s always changing, you’re always learning, there’s always something new, something different” Koch says. “I always try to keep an open atmosphere in the kitchen.” That openness extends to swordfish. Koch likes to pair broadbill with various sauces, such as rum glaze, while enhancing the flavor with farm-fresh tomatoes or red pepper.
However, in regards to cooking this specific seafood, the biggest rule to follow is to not overcook it. Though Koch says swordfish works great blackened or seared, his favorite method of preparing it is grilling and using only a light marinade. “You want to keep it simple when you have fresh fish,” Koch said. “You want to keep the flavor.”
Koch usually starts by cutting out steaks and brushing them with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. He then cooks the fish on an already piping hot grill for about three minutes on each side, just enough to start seeing the cracks of the meat open.
It’s a method that not only works well in the kitchen but for the guests at the restaurant, especially when they’re tourists vacationing in the area. “It fits a lot of different palates,” Koch said. “It’s not an overly fishy flavor and has a light meat texture, sort of like tuna.”
Chef Jim Koch’s Grilled Swordfish BLT
Makes 1 Sandwich
2-3oz swordfish steaks
Salt & black pepper
Pesto mayonnaise. (If you don’t have pesto mayonnaise, add pesto to your favorite mayonnaise
Roasted red peppers
2 slices thick cut bacon
1 bread roll (I like to use a ciabatta roll)
Pat dry and lightly season swordfish steaks with salt and pepper. Brush them lightly with olive oil. Place in a pre-heated grill pan over medium high heat. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes. Cut your roll in 1⁄2, and slather each side with pesto mayonnaise. Add swordfish medallions and layer with spinach, roasted peppers and bacon slices. This sandwich can be served either hot or chilled.
2-6oz swordfish steaks
2T olive oil
1⁄2 green bell pepper sliced into strips
1⁄2 red bell pepper sliced into thin strips
1 small yellow onion sliced into half moon strips
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
6 white mushrooms quartered
4oz white wine
4oz chicken stock
1-28oz can of Italian whole peeled tomatoes
10-12 olives (I like to used mixed pitted olives)
Fresh basil and parsley
Pat dry and lightly season swordfish steaks with salt and pepper. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium high heat with olive oil. Add swordfish steaks and lightly brown on both sides, then remove from pan and set aside. Add peppers, onions, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and sauté until softened.
Add the white wine to the pan and raise the heat to high. Let the wine reduce by half. Add the chicken stock to the pan and let it reduce by half. Reduce the temperature to medium and hand crush the tomatoes as you add them to the pan and add the remaining liquids from the can. Toss in the olives, bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium low heat. Let the sauce gently simmer until slightly thickened (approximately 30 minutes). Return the swordfish to the pan and let gently simmer in the sauce for 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with chopped fresh basil and parsley.
Koch says he likes “to serve this over grilled polenta but it also goes well with your favorite pasta or white rice.”
Swordfish Steaks in the Lone Star State
Down south on the Gulf of Mexico, cooking swordfish is all about what sauce you add. For Captain Jeff Wilson, who runs the 64′ Titan Up out of Galveston, Texas, this saltwater gourmet item is especially good when it’s fresh-caught and cooking on the grill. And he should know—he’s been a fisherman for more than 40 years, previously running the Booby Trap, and cooking for 15-plus years.
Because of how much time he’s spent out on boats, Wilson explains he’s had to learn how to cook for himself and his crew. But he’s caught enough swordfish throughout his fishing career that he knows what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to preparing them.
Wilson notes that every person should find what cooking method fits best for their individual taste. “What I recommend is Googling swordfish recipes and finding one that works for you,” Wilson says. “Some people don’t like one thing or another.”
For Wilson, grilling is the way to go (after all the man lives in Texas). Here’s his recipe, which can be made on the grill or in the oven, for a mouth-watering swordfish:
Captain Jeff Wilson’s Grilled Swordfish
You’ll need one thick swordfish steak, strong horseradish, creamy horseradish, one stick of salted butter, parmesan cheese and Cajun seasoning.
Mix horseradish, cheese, melt the butter, add horseradish and cheese, stir until fully blended and set aside.
Spice one side of the steak with a Creole spice. Place the swordfish steak with the spiced side onto the grill. Grill until it is cooked—it should start to look opaque, then flip. Once flipped, spread butter, horseradish and cheese mixture over the steaks. Once the mixture is covering the top of the steak, remove and serve. If the steaks are being made in the oven, the mixture should start to caramelize Wilson recommends using any leftover sauce use as dipping sauce for your meal.
“Slice into the swordfish if you’re worried about overcooking, it becomes dry if you overcook it,” Wilson adds, noting, “it should just barely be pink in the middle, if it’s too pink, keep cooking.” For sides, Wilson is a fan of asparagus, but in the end, at least when swordfish is on the menu, it’s “whatever you’re in the mood for.”