Marinades for Swordfish and Tuna,
plus a bonus recipe for Filet Mignon
I live in an old colonial town on a great Bay, once the livelihood of watermen, but now the playtown of perpetual recreants. Would you believe the place has more good sushi bars than Italian restaurants? Talk about a transvaluation of values (transpacific, to be precise). Anyways, the price of good tuna has been driven up beyond the tolerable by this Asian invasion [are only Asians allowed to say that, or do those crazy-high SATS preempt protected class status?]. No way I'm paying twice as much for tuna as for a rib-eye—vanity of vanities! It’s cheaper in the end just to get the sashimi lunch special at Joss, with a miso soup and salad thrown in for good measure. Anyway, even though my parents never bought but fresh fish steaks back in Brooklyn, I make do with frozen tuna, wild from Vietnam, when it goes on sale for $10 a pound, but averring the palpable difference in taste and texture. (I bet you can still get it fresh for under $15 a pound in Bensonhurst.)
Now, there are two ways to deal with fish steak’s determination to dry out, the Way of the East or the Way of the West. The Eastern Way is to get the very best and very freshest fish steak and not cook it at all, making quite a fuss about how you slice it up and lay it out. That’s the Way of the East at its extreme, namely Japan. I advise you not to try this at home; go out instead for sashimi. You might think it uncharacteristically ecumenical of me to recommend Asian food to you, but allow me to explain to you how my culinary respect for the East only corroborates my Western chauvinism.
When you’re ready to cook them, turn on the broiler to high and pre-heat a bit. Meanwhile, scrape off most of the garlic bits and parsley flecks, which might otherwise burn, and pat the steaks with a paper towel to blot excess oil, which might otherwise catch fire. Lay the steaks out on a broiler pan. Place the pan close to the heat, a few inches away, and broil for several minutes, just until the edges curl and color; then turn the steaks over, and finish gilding them, which will take even fewer minutes.
While the steaks are broiling, prepare your serving platter just as you did your marinating platter. When the steaks are broiled, dip each one on both sides in the marinade as you arrange them on the platter, which you should garnish with fresh parsley branches and lemon wedges. My father’s people leave the swordfish steaks to marinate further, letting them cool down to lukewarm, but I like them hot out of the broiler.
* In a platter or pan, mix a marinade of regular olive oil, squeezes of fresh lemon juice, squirts of white vinegar, chopped garlic and chopped parsley, salt & pepper, and pinches of dried oregano.
* Dip the fish steaks in the marinade, turning them over in it a few times, to coat well. Leave them to marinate for as little as a half-hour or all day, turning them over now and again.
* Pour out a mound of flour on a paper towel, and season it with several pinches of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Press the tuna fillets into the flour, on both sides; pat the flour in, then shake off excess.