Szechuan Swordfish Brochettes

When I think of swordfish, I am always reminded of when my brother was a little boy and my mother took us to Paddy’s Clam House, a great fish restaurant in New York that used to be a traditional lunch spot for Macy’s shoppers, as it was just down the street. When Michael heard that swordfish was on the menu he ordered it without hesitation but when the large flat fish steak arrived, he was visibly disappointed, immediately asking where the sword was. Thirty years later, I had the good fortune to be present to prevent his son’s meeting the same fate. When Alexander ordered the swordfish, I said to him, “Wait! I bet you’re ordering it for the sword....” His incredulous response: “How did you know?”

No little boy would ever be disappointed by this swordfish recipe as it is served skewered on a “sword.” (Although I’m certainly not recommending leaving it on the plate for them to play with.) But of course this is a recipe for children and grown-ups alike and is ideal for Mother’s Day as children will take so much pleasure in helping to prepare it. The tangy orange/soy marinade, which was inspired by a dish served at Wilkinson’s restaurant in New York, makes the fish wonderfully moist and tender. If you don’t have a charcoal grill, the fish is also delicious broiled.

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Marinating time: 1 hour
volume ounces/pounds grams/kilograms
swordfish steaks, 1½ inches thick 3 pounds 1 kilogram, 361 grams
soy sauce ¼ liquid cup
orange zest, finely grated (from 1 navel orange) 2 tablespoons 0.5 ounce 12 grams
orange juice, freshly squeezed ¼ liquid cup
lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1 tablespoon
sesame oil 2 tablespoons
vegetable oil 2 tablespoons
tomato paste 2 tablespoons
2 large garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon 0.5 ounce 10.5 grams
pepper, preferably Szechuan,* freshly ground ½ teaspoon
fresh ginger, grated 1 teaspoon 0.2 ounce 6 grams

*If using Szechuan peppercorns, crush them in a mortar and pestle or put in a heavy-duty plastic bag and crush with a hammer.

volume ounces/pounds grams/kilograms
2 medium red onions, cut into sixths 12 ounces 340 grams
2 small zucchini about 8-inches long, cut into 1-inch rounds 14 ounces 200 grams
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1½-inch pieces 6.25 ounces 175 grams


Cut the swordfish into -inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, place all the ingredients for the marinade and whisk to blend well. Add the swordfish and stir to coat it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (preferably Saran brand) and allow to sit at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Divide the vegetables evenly into 12 piles so that each skewer will have the same amount of each one. Place the swordfish on the skewers, alternating with the vegetables. Brush all over with the marinade.

Meanwhile, prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

When the coals are ready, lightly oil the grill rack. (I like to heat the rack over the coals as they are heating so that it sears the fish.) Place the brochettes on the grill and grill, covered, for about 5 minutes. Turn the brochettes, brush again with the marinade and continue grilling for another 5 minutes or until the fish is opaque all the way through and tender when flaked with a fork.