Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Swordfish with Peach-Corn Salsa

My CSA keeps me sane in the summer: it helps keep my miserly urges from denying me fresh vegetables and jump starts my culinary creativity in a couple different ways. Not only does the seasonality lead me into the diverse options for familiar vegetables, but it also forces me to try out vegetables I'm less familiar with (see the last post, a study of kohlrabi). This has worked really well for the last few yeas, and both my miserly urges and desire for a varied palate are satisfied.

This year, the farm down the road where I have a share became a pickup location for Cape Cod Fish Share. The fish share does the same things that the vegetable share does for me as regards creativity and circumventing the miserly urges, but also answers many of the sourcing and sustainability questions that keep me from buying fish regularly. They buy directly from the people who catch the fish, most of whom run out of Chatham Harbor on Cape Cod, which is about as local as ocean fish gets around here. Each week, the fish share folks send out a flier describing what fish will be in the share, including which boats they're buying from and a profile of how the fish is caught/what the issues around it are (also, serving suggestions). It's not totally without hangups: the "shared risk" aspect of community-supported agriculture definitely comes into play here, but they're good about getting you the quantity of fish coming to you, even if the varieties change or some of it gets delayed.

The most recent share brought in a nice piece of swordfish, a variety I never buy at the store, which I cooked up the last of last night. Meaty and versatile, my first instinct is to get the grill going, but it seems pointless getting the charcoal grill going just for me, so I stuck with searing it in a hot cast-iron skillet. On a whim, I had picked up some peaches (which do grow around here) and sweet corn while getting my vegetables today, which I used to make a quick salsa to go over the fish. The salsa actually works in a variety of contexts: it holds up against
just about any strong, meaty fish like tuna or bluefish but would also pair well with grilled chicken. There's some wiggle room within it, too. I used peach, corn and basil, but you can use pretty much any firm-fleshed stone fruit, which puts mango and nectarine on the table as well, and bright, fresh herb, which adds in cilantro, dill or even parsley. The non-negotiable pieces are the lime juice (ok, I guess you could use lemon, but fresh is really important here), which is going to do a lot for the fish, jalapeño and salt & pepper. I also tossed in a little thin-sliced fennel bulb, which builds the depth of the sweetness with is light, anise flavor. Other things that might do well in here include sweet pepper and red or sweet onion; just about anything tender-crisp and sweet with a little acidic bite.

Even better, this all comes together in no time flat. Depending on how quickly you chop the salsa components, you could go start to finish on this whole thing in about 20 minutes.

Swordfish with Peach-Corn Salsa

serves 2, gluten/grain-free

    The Salsa

  • 1 med. peach, ripe or slightly under-ripe, ¼-½" cubes
  • 1 ear sweet corn, grilled, steamed or right off the plant, cut off cob
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, minced
  • handful basil leaves, picked off stems and chiffonaded
  • juice of ½ lime
  • salt & pepper

  • The Fish

  • ½ lb. swordfish, cut into two evenish pieces
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Chop main salsa ingredients and mix in a small bowl. I like to juice the lime right into the bowl using a spoon as a reamer. You might have to pick out a seed or two, but you get the most of the juice and the little bits of pulp add to the overall effect. Rub the fish with a little olive oil and sdd salt & pepper to taste.

As far as cooking the fish, salt and pepper on both sides while heating up a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over a very high heat. Open the windows, turn the hood fan on, it's going to get a little smoky. In some dishes, that's how you can tell you're doing it right. Once the pan is quite hot, lay the fish in. For ¼ lb pieces, cook about 4-5 minutes on one side, then flip and cook about 2 minutes on the other. I like my fish a little rare, so take those cooking times as you will. Spoon the salsa over the fish immediately. You want to let it rest for a few minutes, and it will pull in the bright flavors of the salsa as it does so.

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