Sicilian Swordfish Spiedini By: Nancy Silverton

Rating: 
Yield: 
Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients: 

For the Marinade
2 cups packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup garlic cloves (about 12 medium or large cloves)
½ teaspoon red chile flakes

For the Spiedini
1½ pounds zucchini
64 fresh bay leaves, or as needed
3½ pounds (1½-inch thick) skinless swordfish or ahi tuna steaks (or amberjack), cut into 1½- to 2-inch cubes
4 lemons
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing the lemons
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Finishing-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon sea salt (or another flaky sea salt such as fleur de sel)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (from about 2 tablespoons packed whole leaves)

Instructions: 

To make the marinade, combine the parsley, olive oil, garlic, and chile flakes in the bowl of a miniature food processor or the jar of a blender fitted with a metal blade and purée. Set aside.

To prepare the spiedini, cut the stems and tips o of each zucchini and slice them lengthwise -inch thick on a mandolin.

Organize the zucchini slices, bay leaves, fish cubes, and skewers on a flat work surface to create an assembly line. Building one skewer at a time, put a bay leaf on a skewer, pushing the leaf toward the bottom of the skewer. Stack two zucchini slices, roll them like a fruit roll-up, and spear them on the skewer, pushing the rolled zucchini slices to meet the bay leaf. Add another bay leaf, then a cube of fish. Build two more layers, adding another bay leaf, doubled zucchini slice roll, bay leaf, a second cube of fish, bay leaf, zucchini roll, bay leaf, third cube of fish, bay leaf, zucchini roll, and finishing with a bay leaf. Assemble all of the skewers in the same way.

Divide the spiedini between two large sealable plastic bag, taking care not to puncture the bags with the skewers or put them in a large non-reactive baking dish. Pour the marinade into the bags, dividing it evenly, or into the dish. Turn the spiedini to coat the fish on all sides and gently massage the marinade into the fish with your hands. If you are marinating the fish in bags, put the bags into a baking dish to catch any marinade that might leak out of them. Set the fish aside to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours; bring the spiedini to room temperature before grilling.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill. (Alternatively, preheat a square or rectangular grill pan over high heat. Cooking method and times will be the same as for grilling.)

Cut the lemons in half through the middle and cut ½-inch o of the pointed ends so each lemon half has two flat surfaces. Brush the cut ends of the lemon halves with olive oil.

Remove the spiedini from the marinade. Sprinkle with the salt and a light coat of pepper; discard the marinade. Put the spiedini on the grill or in the grill pan and cook for 14 to 16 minutes for swordfish, about 12 minutes for tuna, turning to cook all sides evenly, until the fish is cooked through; it will firm to the touch and doesn’t stick to the grill. (The most sure-fire way to test for doneness is to remove one cube of fish from a skewer and tear it open; it’s done when it is opaque throughout.) Remove the skewers from the grill as the fish is done.

While the spiedini are grilling, place the lemon halves on the grill or in the grill pan with the fish with the larger, center side of the lemons facing down, for about 2 minutes, until the lemons are golden brown. Turn the lemon halves and cook the smaller sides for about 30 seconds just to warm them.

To serve, lay the spiedini facing in one direction on a large rectangular or square platter. Drizzle the spiedini with finishing-quality oil and sprinkle them with sea salt and the parsley. Nestle the lemon halves around the spiedini on the platter and serve.

Note: If you are not cooking these on an outdoor grill, you will need a square or rectangular grill pan to cook them, since you can only fit one skewer in a round grill pan. You will also need a mandolin to slice the zucchini as thinly as it needs to be sliced for this recipe, and 8 to 10 long (at least 10-inch) skewers, preferably metal. If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 1 hour before assembling the spied ini.

Spiedini means “skewers” in Italian. The first place in Italy that I saw spiedini was Sicily, where you see assembled spiedini of various meat and fish for people to buy to cook at home. This recipe is based on those we serve at Chi Spacca, but we use amberjack, a steak-like fish similar to swordfish. Since amberjack can be elusive to the home cook, we adapted this recipe to work with swordfish or ahi tuna. Because I think of spiedini as Sicilian, when I serve them at home, I am inspired by other Sicilian flavors, but in truth, they would be delicious with any of the Italian-leaning vegetables in the book.

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