The Art of Eating's Swordfish with Olives, Celery, Garlic, Vinegar, and Mint 

The Art of Eating's Swordfish with Olives, Celery, Garlic, Vinegar, and Mint\u00a0

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

Swordfish is not a fish that needs to be treated with a gentle hand. It has a firm, steaky flesh with strong flavors that can stand up to virtually anything you throw at it. In fact, not too many other fish in the sea could stand up to the classically Sicilian Pesce Spada alla Stemperata or Swordfish with Olives, Celery, Garlic, Vinegar, and Mint.

Edward Behr adapted this recipe for The Art of Eating Cookbook and it's full of those big, punchy elements that swordfish thrives on: vinegar, capers, onions, garlic, and raisins.

Why you should make this: If fish is generally a bit delicate for your taste, we urge you to give this recipe a shot. It's about as meaty and satisfying a fish dish can be.

Next time we might think about: This can be served straight out of the pan, but room temperature is how they serve it in Sicily. We love the idea of the sauce sitting with the fish as it cools to intensify and really permeate the flesh.

Adapted from The Art of Eating Cookbook by Edward Behr. Copyright © 2011. Published by University of California Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:Serves 6
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes


  • 6 swordfish or tuna (not bluefin) steaks (about 3 pounds total)
  • Excellent, fresh-tasting olive oil
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery heart, thinly sliced, to make about 1 cup
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers in salt, well rinsed
  • 20 green olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup white-wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup raisins, softened in hot water and drained
  • 4 or 5 spearmint leaves, chopped
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts, optional
  • Salt and black pepper 


  1. 1.

    Fry the fish in olive oil over medium heat just until the translucent flesh turns opaque, about 10 minutes for an inch thick steak, and remove it from the pan to stop the cooking. In a separate large, nonreactive pan with a lid, cook the garlic, onion, celery, and carrot gently in olive oil until soft but not colored, 5 minutes or more. Add the capers, olives, vinegar, raisins, mint leaves, and pine nuts. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt, if needed, and grind in pepper. If the pan seems in danger of drying, add up to 1/2 cup of water. Return the fish to the pan, cover, and cook gently to partly meld the flavors, not much more than 5 minutes.