Glaze-Grilled Swordfish

Kajiki no Teriyaki

The word teriyaki means “glaze-grill,” and it is a popular method of preparing fish and meat in Japan. Unlike many American versions of this dish, true teriyaki dishes are neither marinated in a heavy soy-based sauce nor are they baked and then drowned in a sweet soy gravy. Authentic teriyaki cooking involves a quick searing followed by a light napping with a sweetened soy sauce to produce a complex, layered effect—glossy, slightly crusty burnished exterior with a snowy white, moist, and tender interior. Sometimes glaze-grilling is done on an outdoor grill or under a broiler, and at those times the glaze is painted on the seared fish in several layers toward the end of the cooking process. With thick fish and meat steaks, though, glaze-grilling usually means searing the food in a heavy skillet, then braising it in a rapidly reducing sweetened soy glaze. Swordfish can be enjoyed either way.

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Ingredients

Sweetened Soy Glaze

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 pieces swordfish, each about 4-5 ounces and at least ½ inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Method

  1. In a small saucepan set over low heat, combine the glaze ingredients and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook the sauce for 3 minutes; it will become quite foamy and bubbly. Pour the sauce into a small heatproof glass jar or bowl, and let it sit until cool. (The glaze can be made up at your convenience and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.)
  2. When you are ready to cook, place the pieces of swordfish in a flat-bottomed glass dish and sprinkle the rice wine over them, turning the pieces so that all surfaces become moist. Let the fish sit for 5 minutes. Just before cooking, lightly salt both sides of each piece of fish.
  3. To cook on an outdoor grill: Brush the fish very lightly with the oil, and sear the fish over hot coals for 2-3 minutes. Flip the fish and sear the other side for another 1½-2 minutes. While the second side is cooking, paint the first side (now facing up) with the glaze. Flip the fish and paint the other side with glaze. Cook for another minute. Flip and repaint the fish with glaze, cooking for another minute. A total of 7-8 minutes cooking time should be sufficient for swordfish about ¾ inch thick. Pour extra glaze over the fish when serving.
  4. To cook in a skillet: Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Sear the fish for 1½ minutes on each side. If your skillet is not large enough to accommodate all the fish at once, sear it in batches. Lower the heat slightly, and add half of the soy glaze to the empty pan, cooking it until bubbly. Return two pieces of the fish, and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the fish, raise the heat to high, and continue cooking for another minute. The sauce should be reduced to a richly colored glaze. Transfer the glazed fish to serving plates, and pour any remaining pan juices over the fish; keep these pieces warm. Quickly rinse out the pan, and repeat with the remaining soy glaze and seared fish.

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