Eating for Life

Sustainably fished swordfish is good for you and the environment

Updated: 2013-05-29T00:15:39Z


The Kansas City Star

Editor’s note: This column originally ran in 2009.

Overfishing in U.S. waters during the ’90s led many restaurant chefs to boycott swordfish. The “Give Swordfish A Break” campaign marked the first large-scale effort to encourage consumers to support fish conservation. The move allowed endangered swordfish stocks to bounce back.

Since 2005, consumers who live thousands of miles from the nearest ocean have also had a new tool to help them identify the source of their swordfish: Country of origin labels are mandatory for fish and seafood sold in supermarkets.

Swordfish is a meaty fish that resists flaking when cooked on the grill. The Star’s Grilled Swordfish Rolls are an excellent source of selenium, niacin and vitamin B12, as well as a good source of zinc.

•  Shopping tip: Look for cooking twine and an inexpensive meat pounder in the kitchen supply aisle at your supermarket. The Monterey Bay Aquarium designates U.S and Canadian swordfish caught by handline or harpoon as a “best choice.” Avoid imported longline caught swordfish.

• Health advisory: Concerns about elevated mercury levels in large predatory fish such as swordfish led government agencies to advise against serving to young children and pregnant women.

Grilled Swordfish Rolls

Makes 4 servings

12 thin asparagus spears, trimmed

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

2 cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 swordfish steaks (about 8 to 10 ounces each, cut 1-inch thick)

Place 4 (12-inch) pieces of cooking twine in cold water. Set aside.

Fill a large saucepan with about 1-inch of water. Cover and heat over high heat until water boils. Add asparagus and cook, uncovered, 2 minutes. Using tongs, lift asparagus from boiling water, rinse in cool water and set aside.

Combine basil, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor. Pulse to finely chop. Add lemon juice and process. Drizzle in olive oil and process to blend.

Place fish on a sheet of plastic wrap on a board or tray, then cover fish with plastic wrap. Gently pound fish until about 1/4 -inch thick. Cut each piece in half. Spray fish generously with nonstick spray coating, turning to cover both sides of fish evenly.

Reserve 1/4 cup basil mixture. Spoon about 1/4 of remaining basil mixture into the center of each piece of fish, spreading to cover the top of the fillet. Place 3 asparagus spears in the center of each piece of fish. Roll fish around asparagus, overlapping fish as necessary. Tie each to secure in a roll. Clip and discard ends of string.

Lightly oil grill grate or spray with nonstick spray coating. Preheat grill or allow coals to burn down to white ash.

Grill fish rolls over direct, medium-high heat, in a covered grill, 10 minutes, or until fish is opaque, turning to cook and brown evenly. Clip and discard strings before serving. Drizzle fish with reserved basil mixture.

Per roll (about 4 ounces cooked fish with 3 asparagus spears each): 182 calories (40 percent from fat), 8 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 237 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss. To reach Jill Wendholt Silva, The Star’s food editor and restaurant critic, call 816-234-4347, send email to or follow her on Facebook.

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