Swordfish: It's What's for Dinner and It's Good for the Conscience

Did you know swordfish has a hunting season? Whole Foods Market does. July through mid-August is swordfish season, and you should run, not walk, to get some.

Whole Foods is a leader in offering humanely raised and killed meats, poultry and fish. The store's swordfish comes exclusively from a small fishing fleet in Nova Scotia that only uses harpoons to catch the fish. The Marine Stewardship Council has certified the Nova Scotia harpoon fleet for using "traditional, time-honored fishing methods, relying on knowledge and techniques handed down from generation to generation."

The MSC is the most "authoritative seafood sustainability program in the marketplace," and Whole Foods has worked with the group for more than a decade to combat overfishing, support small fisheries and ensure sustainable fishing. The swordfish are caught one at a time. They're large, mature adults, and no other marine life or oceanic habitats are harmed during the harpooning.

For a couple more weeks, you can get this very nutritious and versatile fish at Whole Foods Market. It is a firm-fleshed fish, very similar to tuna in texture. It is not fatty and can be cooked with skin on or off. The flesh is white, and it comes with a blood line in it. The fishmonger at Whole Foods will be happy to cut that part off for you, or you can cook it, as it is edible and, I think, tasty. It's like swordfish on steroids: a much richer-tasting part of the fish.

Swordfish can stand up to many cooking methods: grilling, pan-searing, braising, poaching, baking or broiling. For a six-ounce portion, none of these methods requires more than 12 minutes of cooking, and most need only six to ten minutes.

I prepared the swordfish with peach salsa and arugula and was impressed with the very clean flavor of the fish. It was meaty and heavy enough for dinner, but the peach salsa really brightened it for the summer. I made a lime and peach juice vinaigrette for the arugula that was a perfect accompaniment. It was a quick and easy dinner to make and clean up -- and still have time to relax in the pool.

Swordfish is great in salads, in a sandwich, in tacos, prepared like tuna salad, with fresh fruit salsa, etc. I have included two recipes below, but there are several more on the Whole Foods Market Web site that are fast, easy and fantastic-tasting. Swordfish can be pricey, but many of the recipes don't call for much of it for a healthy serving. And the taste, nutrition and humane principles it supports all are worth it.

Swordfish Tacos with Creamy Corn and Tomato Slaw Makes 6 tacos

The fresh corn slaw in these tacos is a tasty way to get healthy raw veggies into a meal. To feel confident that you're making a difference for the oceans, choose halibut (or harpoon-caught swordfish, when available) from a Marine Stewardship Council-certified sustainable fishery. The little bit you need to make this recipe so delicious is worth the money and casts your vote for a long-term supply of wild seafood.


  • 3/4 pound boneless, skin-on swordfish fillet, halved crosswise 

  • 2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil or extra-virgin olive oil 

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 

  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage 

  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh tomatoes 

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice 

  • 2 ears corn, kernels removed 

  • 6 whole wheat tortillas, warmed 

  • 1/3 cup mild salsa

Method: Brush halibut all over with oil; season with salt and pepper. Cook in a large skillet (or on the grill) over medium heat, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through, about ten minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together cabbage, tomatoes, mayonnaise, lime juice and corn to make a slaw. Remove and discard skin from halibut and then flake into bite-size pieces. Fill tortillas with slaw and fish. Serve with salsa.

Pan-seared Swordfish with Summer Salsa and Arugula Serves 4

Sweet-tart nectarine salsa and peppery arugula are flavorful accompaniments to seared swordfish. Add a seeded chopped jalapeño to the salsa if you like.


  • 2 nectarines or peaches, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 6 lightly packed cups baby arugula
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 (12-ounce) swordfish steaks, about 1 inch thick
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Method: Combine nectarines, onion, cilantro, lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. In a separate medium bowl, combine arugula and 1 teaspoon oil. Heat remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and add to skillet. Cook, turning once, until browned and almost opaque in the center, 7 to 8 minutes, being careful not to overcook. Divide greens between plates; top greens with fish and salsa.

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