Pan-Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Warm Salmoriglio and Capers

Pesce Spada al Salmoriglio Caldo

Salmoriglio is a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano that, in Sicily, you brush on hot, thin, grilled swordfish steaks. The recipe appears in an earlier book of mine, and it is one that I have known readers and friends to be very fond of. The more familiar salmoriglio is poured cold, like a dressing, but there is also the version that you find below, in which heat is applied briefly to bring the fish and its dressing together. An additional ingredient here is the capers, added off heat.

Do not exceed the recommended thickness of the swordfish steak. You are pan-searing it and to keep the fish juicy you need to do it quickly, but at the same time you don’t want to serve it partly raw inside, which might happen if the slice is too thick.


  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, squeezed fresh
  • 4 garlic cloves, lightly mashed with the handle of a knife and peeled
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh
  • Oregano, 2 teaspoons if fresh, 1 teaspoon if dried
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds swordfish, cut into 1 to -inch-thick steaks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers

A cast-iron griddle or skillet

A warm serving platter


  1. Into a small bowl put the lemon juice, garlic, salt, liberal grindings of black pepper, and oregano and beat with a fork until the salt has completely dissolved.
  2. Add the olive oil in a thin trickle, beating it in with a fork as though you were making mayonnaise by hand.
  3. Heat up the cast-iron griddle or skillet. It should sizzle instantly on contact with the fish. Slip in the swordfish steaks. As soon as they have formed a thin but dark crust on the side next to the griddle, use a broad spatula to turn them over. As soon as the steaks have a crust on both sides, transfer them to a warm platter.
  4. Choose a regular skillet that can accommodate the swordfish steaks on a single level without overlapping, put in the fish, pour the lemon juice and oregano mixture over them, and turn on the heat to high. Cook for about a minute, turning the steaks once. Off heat, add the capers. Transfer the full contents of the pan to a very warm platter and serve at once.