Cooking with Joy

Cooking with Joy: Reel in these tasty swordfish steaks

June 24, 2013 

By Joy Smith

Fishermen always like to talk about “the one that got away.” It’s usually an exaggerated and detailed story about the monster they “almost” caught. Well, I’m one of those people.

Let me tell you right up front that I’m passionate about a number of things in my life. Fishing happens to be one of them.

Using the right bait was the first lesson I learned from my father about fishing. Most of us used worms. Because we had a compost pile in the corner of our backyard, I was never at a loss for bait.

As kids, my friend, Loulie Johnston, and I caught lizards in the woods near her family’s summer cabin. We set up a little bait stand at the end of the driveway and sold them for five cents apiece. Sometimes the bait business was brisk. Who could resist two cute little girls sitting by the side of the road selling lizards?

I learned a lot about fishing from my Uncle Milton. He and Aunt Rena lived on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. When my family vacationed there, I spent many a lazy summer day fishing on his boat.

Uncle Milton taught me how to chum. He took a bucket full of fish heads and miscellaneous bloody parts and dumped it overboard. We slowly chugged through it over and over again. Big fish were attracted to the area and went into a feeding frenzy. Chumming wasn’t a favorite of mine because, quite honestly, it smelled terrible.

Stinky yes, but highly successful.

Another lesson I learned from Uncle Milton was to follow the birds to the best fishing spot. Whenever we saw lots of gulls circling and diving, we could be sure that they had found a school of fish; the birds were never wrong.

To choose the worst fishing experiences I ever had is tough. I’d have to say it’s a toss up between the time I got eaten alive by mosquitoes and chiggers fishing on a friend’s lake in Midlothian, Va., or going deep sea fishing at Ocean City, Md., with my cousin’s wife, Gina.

The weather was awful, the sea was rough, hardly any fish were caught, and Gina got seasick.

On the other hand, the highlight of my fishing career took place in Hawaii. While on vacation there, I opted to go fishing on a professional fishing boat geared to catch really big fish. It was a beautiful day. Little flying fish swam along beside us, and there were rainbows above us.

The captain strapped me into a chair and handed me a huge fishing pole, which fit into a sturdy holder in front of me. As we headed out into the Pacific Ocean my pole suddenly bent down, and I held onto it for dear life. Out of the water came a huge silver fish with an incredible fin and a long snout. It hung in the air momentarily, glistening in the sun – and then it was gone.

I had snagged a swordfish.

It was the one that got away from me. Even though I didn’t reel him in, I was thrilled to have had that one moment in time. I’ll never forget it.

I don’t have a stuffed swordfish on my wall, but I do have an excellent recipe for swordfish. Whenever I prepare this dish, I just pretend it’s the one I almost caught. This one can’t get away, though.

Swordfish Steak

2 swordfish steaks

3 Tbs. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

8 peppercorns

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 cup white wine

6 Tbs. cold butter

Put garlic, ginger, peppercorns, vinegar, soy sauce, and wine into the blender to make the sauce. Blend well. Pour mixture into a small saucepan and add the butter. Bring to a boil and cook until it’s reduced in half. Strain and keep warm.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown swordfish steaks, about a minute or so on each side over high heat.

Don’t overcook. Pour sauce over fish and serve.

Joy Smith is a resident of Fort Mill.

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