Swordfish Steak au Poivre with Lily Bulb and Pomelo Salad


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

America's Best Chefs Cook with Jeremiah Tower

America's Best Chefs Cook with Jeremiah Tower

By Jeremiah Tower

Published 2003

  • About

Having dinner at Ken Oringer’s Clio in Boston the night before I cooked with him on the beach at Scituate, Massachusetts, I found a leaf in a salad that was new to me. I was told it was lily bulb. The next morning I walked over to the Asian market that Ken suggested and found the bulbs. It turns out that they are commonly sold in Chinese markets sealed in plastic, but if you can’t find them, use sliced fresh water chestnuts mixed with chopped Belgian endive.

Before heading to the kitchen, I also picked up some fresh young ginger and some tiny dried shrimp from Vietnam. I had no idea what I was going to do with the ingredients, but after I found some perfect pink swordfish, I put this dish together.


  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons white peppercorns
  • 4 swordfish steaks, 4 to 6 ounces each
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 pound fresh lily bulbs, cored, leaves removed
  • ¼ cup organic cold-pressed canola or peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh young ginger, preferably Hawaiian, peeled, finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tiny dried shrimp, cooked 10 seconds in vegetable oil, drained, chopped
  • zest and juice from 2 limes
  • 1 ripe pomelo, sections cut out of the fruit and its compartments
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Toast the peppercorns in a dry wok or large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Put the peppercorns in a small baking dish and crush them with the bottom of a saucepan. Put the pepper through a fine sieve, saving the dust that falls through separately from the coarse pieces of pepper.

Dip the swordfish steaks in the olive oil on both sides and then press into the coarse pepper. Salt the fish.

Heat a large, dry seasoned cast-iron skillet and cook the swordfish for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pan and let sit for another 5 minutes, or less if the fish is done; it should remain translucent in the very center.

Meanwhile, put the lily bulb leaves, canola oil, fresh and crystallized ginger, dried shrimp, half the lime juice, and a pinch each of salt and fine pepper in a bowl. Toss to mix the salad. When you take the fish out of the oven, put the salad in a large frying pan and heat over medium heat, tossing constantly, for 2 minutes, just to warm it through. Remove from the heat, add the pomelo sections, and toss again.

Divide the salad among 4 warm plates. Put the fish on top and drizzle with the olive oil and remaining lime juice. Sprinkle the lime zest and some of the reserved fine pepper powder on top and serve.