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Simple Lemon and Garlic Swordfish Recipe

For those of us who do not regularly eat seafood or live near the ocean, you may not be that familiar with swordfish in cuisine. It might sound like an exotic fish that is a bit intimidating to eat; however, it actually has a very mellow taste and is great for cooking.

What is Swordfish?

Swordfish is definitely not as common as tuna, bass, or halibut is. Even though it is not the most common fish, don’t underestimate it – it’s actually a very meaty fish. Swordfish are big muscular predatory fish. This active lifestyle gives their meat a much firmer texture that flaky fish like bass do not have. 

Swordfish with fresh tomatoes and grated lemon peel on a plate with a fork and knife next to it

Is Swordfish Safe to Eat? 

In short, swordfish is safe to eat, but moderation is very important. As a large predatory fish, swordfish does experience biomagnification of heavy metals like mercury (biomagnification being the increased concentration of a substance per unit of weight as you go up the food chain). 

Basically, if there is a little bit of mercury in seaweed or plankton, there is a little more proportionately in small fish, and much more proportionately in bigger predator fish. 

All that to say, yes, swordfish is more dangerous than eating seaweed, but no more dangerous than eating tuna. What is most important is that heavy metals are removed from the body over time, so just don’t go eating any predatory fish daily and you will avoid biomagnification in yourself. 

To put this in perspective, I believe somewhere around 10+ cans of tuna per week is the level where it starts becoming dangerous to humans.  

What is Lemon and Garlic Swordfish?

Lemon garlic swordfish is one of the simplest ways to cook this versatile fish, and we think it’s a great way to start getting more into seafood. If you have young ones or seafood naysayers in your house, swordfish is a great alternative to chicken.  

Our Approach to Lemon and Garlic Swordfish

Sous vide is the way to go for cooking this, since swordfish is fairly lean and very chicken like. We do not want to overcook it because it will get dry. We’ll cook it low and slow until the inside is perfect, and then pat it dry and do a quick sear for flavor. 

What Makes a Good Lemon and Garlic Swordfish

When cooked right, you are going to want it to be juicy, fresh, and firm enough to cut like a chicken breast would be. 

Swordfish with fresh tomatoes and grated lemon peel on a plate

Developing Flavors

Looking to develop even more flavor in your swordfish? The longer you can salt or marinade your fish, the more flavor it will pick up. If you have the time, try salting the fish and adding the lemon 1 day before and let it sit in your fridge overnight. 

Pairing Ideas

I would highly recommend a lemony, buttery, oaky Chardonnay wine with lemon garlic swordfish. Starch wise, you don’t want to go too heavy like potatoes, but some alternatives like celery root or sunchoke work very well. 

Tools Required

Swordfish with fresh tomatoes and grated lemon peel on a plate with a fork and knife next to it

Lemon and Garlic Swordfish

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons parsley for garnish, chopped


  1. Put the swordfish in a ziplock bag with 1 tablespoon of olive oil per piece of fish
  2. Cook the swordfish in the sous vide for 45 minutes at 130°
  3. When the swordfish is done, reverse sear on a hot cast iron pan, 30 seconds per side
  4. Add the butter and olive oil to a small skillet, and melt over low heat
  5. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook over very low heat until the garlic browns
  6. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, to reduce the volume.  
  7. Remove from the heat, and stir in the grated lemon zest and lemon juice
  8. Pour over the swordfish, and garnish with the parsley

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. With inspirations like Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsey, Nathaniel focuses on simple processes to make amazing food.

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