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My Nepenthe
by Romney Steele

Nepenthe first served grilled swordfish in the '50s or '60s as a special, and my grandmother topped it with a savory sour cream-caper sauce. We used to brush the swordfish with butter while grilling, but I prefer to drizzle with olive oil beforehand as they do in Italy, where I imagine my grandmother first enjoyed this meaty Mediterranean fish. Serve the steaks on beds of young greens, either arugula or baby spinach, so that the greens wilt from the heat.
Serves 4


    Sour Cream-Caper Sauce
    • 1/3 cup sour cream
    • 1 tablespoon minced onion
    • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon hot mustard
    • Scant 1/2 teaspoon horseradish
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • Dash Tabasco sauce
    • Pinch salt and a pinch white pepper
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley or dill

    • 2 (12-ounce) swordfish steaks, about 1/2 inch thick, halved to make 4 pieces
    • 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Lemon halves and wedges


For the sauce, mix the sour cream, onion, capers, mustard, and horseradish in a small bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Stir in the parsley. The sauce can be made 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For the fish, heat a grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the steaks with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and set aside for 10 minutes.

Grill the swordfish, turning only once, for 7 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare. Just before it is done, squeeze the lemon halves over the fish. Arrange the steak on plates and drizzle with the caper sauce, or serve the sauce on the side. Serve with lemon wedges.

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