Grilled Swordfish with Fennel and Lemon

Swordfish steaks are easy to grill because they don’t fall apart as they cook. The silky texture of the sautéd fennel contrasts well with the firm beefsteak-like fish. Lemons get sweeter when grilled. Squeeze a little juice over the fish and fennel, if you like, but try eating the lemon, rind included.

Soaking the fish in milk removes the “fishy” smell and has no perceptible effect on the flavor. This step is unnecessary if you happen to have truly fresh-caught swordfish.

Grilled Swordfish with Fennel and Lemon

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Yields: 2 servings


  • 1 Swordfish steak (about 12 oz)
  • Milk
  • 2 Fennel bulbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle or with the flat side of a heavy knife
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • Zest of one lemon, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel fronds
  • 1 lemon, halved, cut sides brushed with olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for the grill


  1. Place the swordfish in a bowl and cover with milk. Let stand while you prepare the fennel.
  2. Trim the fennel bulbs, cutting off the tough base and frond stalks. Cut the bulbs into thin slices (1/4")
  3. Start the grill.
  4. Heat the olive oil and butter in a sauté pan. Add the garlic, crushed fennel seeds, ginger and crushed red pepper, and give it a stir. Then add the fennel. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium low heat, until the fennel is tender (10 minutes or so). Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and fennel fronds.
  5. While the fennel is cooking and when the grill is hot, Remove the fish from the milk and blot it dry, discarding the milk. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush the hot cooking grate with oil, and place the lemon halves cut side down and the swordfish steak on the grill. Grill for 4 minutes or so, depending on how hot the fire is. Remove the lemon halves to a cooler part of the grill and turn them cut side up. Turn the fish and continue grilling. The fish is done when the internal temperature reaches 125ºF, although it will still be relatively juicy at 145ºF for those who prefer their fish well done.
  6. Remove the lemons and fish from the grill. Cut the fish into two servings. Serve the fish with the fennel nestled against it and partially covering it, and with a grilled lemon half.

Additional Info

This dish goes well with lightly cooked and chilled asparagus.

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