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Swordfish Is Back—In the Seas, and On the Menu

After being overfished due to popularity in the ’80s and ’90s, the meaty fish is making a triumphant return.

Swordfish from Honey’s   Photo: Jeff Marini

In recent years, it’s been hard to find swordfish on a menu. And for good reason: The popularity of the meaty fish in the late ’80s and early ’90s led to a serious overfishing problem, and environmental groups banded together to persuade consumers to lay off eating it. Eventually, swordfish came to feel like a relic of the pre–Seafood Watch era.

Suddenly, though, it’s back in a big way. Fishing quotas and restocking efforts have allowed populations to recover, so much so that swordfish is being lauded as one of the rare success stories in seafood sustainability. Most of the Atlantic-harvested specimens making their way onto plates in the Midwest have been harpoon- or line-caught—methods that largely eliminate by-catch (unintentionally caught sea life)—off the coast of Nova Scotia. The Monterey Bay Aquarium now gives swordfish its highest sustainability rating, and local chefs—including those at the five restaurants at right—are embracing the fish with renewed gusto. You should, too.

Honey’s

Marinating swordfish in chermoula, a Mediterranean sauce of cilantro, garlic, cumin, saffron, ground chili pepper, and lemon juice, makes for a happy marriage.
$32. 1111 W. Lake St., 312-877-5929

Coda di Volpe

Is spearing swordfish on skewers a little too on the nose? Maybe, but when it’s perfectly grilled and paired with caperberries and fennel jam, who cares?
$27. 3335 N. Southport Ave., 773-687-8568

Formento’s

At the reinvented Formento’s, the classic swordfish steak gets modernized with seasonal veggies and a purée of wood-grilled red and yellow peppers.
$29. 925 W. Randolph St., 312-690-7295

Giant

Chef Jason Vincent chars a Canadian swordfish loin and matches it with fried clams and a vinegary giardiniera that cuts straight through all that richness.
$19. 3209 W. Armitage Ave., 773-252-0997

Leña Brava

Think of the arroz con pez vela as a personal pan paella, complete with large hunks of swordfish and a crisped-rice bottom.
$22. 900 W. Randolph St., 312-733-1975

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