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Braised Swordfish with Tomato and Peppers

Food Festivals of Italy
by James Fraioli and Leonardo Curti
Along Calabria's sun-soaked coastline, fish of all kinds is the quintessential food, and all of it is excellent. But there is one species offish whose festival brings locals and visitors flocking every summer to the waterfront stalls to taste and pay tribute. Known as the gladiator fish because of its sharp bill, streamlined physique, and ability to slice through the water with powerful agility and grace, the swordfish is one of the most prized species in Calabria and is the superstar of its annual Swordfish Festival. Contrary to belief, the "sword" is not used to spear but rather to slash prey, often disabling it and making for an easier meal. Due to the large size of the swordfish, the prized meat is usually sold as steaks instead of fillets, perfect for grilling over a hot and smoky wood fire. The color of a swordfish's meat also varies by its diet; for instance, a swordfish caught off the east coast of North America is often much rosier than its Italian counterpart. But whatever the color, and whether grilled, sauteed, baked, poached, or braised by the inventive cooks of Calabria, the centerpiece of the Swordfish Festival is sure to delight.

Pesce Spada Alla Ghiotta
(Braised Swordfish with Tomato and Peppers)

Serves 4


    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • ½ white onion, julienned
    • ½ red bell pepper, julienned
    • ½ green bell pepper, julienned
    • ½ cup tomato puree
    • Pinch of crushed red pepper
    • 2 fresh basil leaves
    • Pinch of dried oregano
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 cup water
    • 4 (6-ounce) fresh swordfish steaks


In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and garlic; cook for i minute. Add the onion and bell peppers; stir well. Add the tomato puree, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add water and cook for 20 minutes more.

Add the swordfish steaks to the sauce and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish is moist and cooked through. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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