Swordfish is one of the most traditional fish in the southern Italian diet. Although it can be eaten at any time of year,it is often a part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes custom celebrated on Christmas Eve (see Mediterranean Tradition).
4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra-virgin
olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup (226 g) chopped boxed
tomatoes, such as Pomi brand
1 cup (226 g) strained boxed
tomatoes, such as Pomi brand
4 tablespoons (36 g) toasted pine
2 tablespoons (5 g) freshly
½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
or salt, divided
1 ⁄ 8 teaspoon freshly ground black
Dash of crushed dried red chili flakes
2 boneless swordfish fillets
(¾ pound, or 340 g), placed in
freezer for 30 minutes
for easier slicing
2 tablespoons (6 g) Fresh Bread
Crumbs (see page 182)
2 tablespoons (15 g) grated
2 tablespoons (18 g) raisins, soaked
in warm water for 20 minutes and
1 tablespoon (10 g) finely chopped
2 tablespoons (8 g) chopped fresh,
flat-leaf Italian parsley, divided
¼ cup (22 g) finely chopped fennel
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
Yield: 4 servings
Heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook until it releases its aroma, 30 to 60 seconds—do
not let garlic turn brown.
Stir in the chopped and strained tomatoes, 2 tablespoons (18 g) pine
nuts, basil, ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper, and chili flakes, stir, and cover.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
With a filleting knife, carefully and neatly slice the swordfish fillets
crosswise once into about 1 ⁄ 8 -inch (3 mm) thick slices. Cut each piece in
half to make 4 pieces.
Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil, bread
crumbs, Pecorino, raisins, remaining pine nuts, remaining salt, onion,
parsley, fennel, and anchovies in a small bowl, and mix well to combine.
Place the fish pieces on a work surface covered with waxed paper or on
a large plastic cutting board, and spread 1 tablespoon (12 g) of the bread
crumb mixture on each piece of fish. Press down firmly with your hands,
so that the filling sticks.
Carefully tuck in the sides of fish. The sides must be firmly tucked in so
that the filling doesn’t escape. Starting at the wide end, roll up the fish,
completely encasing the filling. Use toothpicks or skewers to secure the
Slowly remove lid from tomato sauce and add the rolls into simmering
sauce. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, or until fish is
Transfer the fish to a serving platter, remove skewers, and top with the
While not everyone in Italy adheres to the Feast of the Seven Fishes
menu on Christmas Eve, many do. The Feast consists of a dinner
with seven courses, all created from fish and seafood. The number of
courses or type of fish served at the meal is open to interpretation.
Some maintain that the number seven stands for the seven sacraments,
and others say it refers to the number of days it took God to create the
universe. Other variations on the Feast call for nine types of fish to be
served, signifying the Holy Trinity times three, and still others say the
correct number is thirteen, for the twelve apostles and Jesus.