Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Lemon Oregano Marinade

What’s your favorite way to prepare swordfish? Mine is marinated in an herby vinaigrette, and then grilled. Swordfish is a sturdy fish. It holds up like steak when you cook it, and like beef, takes well to marinating. A quick and easy marinade is just a bottle of your favorite Italian dressing. Or if you, like me, prefer to make your dressings and marinades from scratch, here’s a lovely Greek-inspired vinaigrette with which to marinate the swordfish. It’s made with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano and thyme.

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Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Lemon Oregano Marinade Recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2.

If you are buying fresh swordfish, buy the freshest you can. Like any other fresh fish, it should not smell "fishy" at all. Really, at all. Do not buy fresh fish to eat tomorrow. Cook it and eat it the day you buy it. Looking at the swordfish steaks in the market, any coloration should be pink, not brown. Pick out the best looking, most fresh pieces available.

To defrost frozen fish, keep it in its package, defrost slowly in a bowl of cold water.

Ingredients

Marinade ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Fish:

  • 2 6-8-ounce swordfish steaks
  • Olive oil for grill grates
  • Slices of fresh lemon for garnish

Method

1 Place all marinade ingredients in a small bowl, mix to combine.

2 Rinse the swordfish steaks in cold water and pat dry. (Don't remove the fish skin, it will help keep the steaks from falling apart when grilling. You can always remove after the fish is cooked before serving, if you want.) Place the fish in a non-reactive dish and cover with the marinade. Coat on all sides with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for an 1 hour or longer.

3 Prepare your grill for high direct heat. You know the grill is hot enough when you place your hand one inch above the grill grates and you can only keep it there for 1 second. Wipe the grill grates with a paper towel infused with olive oil to oil the grates so the swordfish steaks don't stick when you turn them over.

place swordfish steaks on hot grill turn swordfish steaks over and grill on the other side

4 Brush off excess marinade (not all of it, just most) from the swordfish steaks. Place the swordfish steaks on the hot grill grates. Grill for about 5 to 7 minutes on one side, until you have good grill marks. Turn over and cook for a few minutes longer, until the fish is just cooked through. Remove from heat and let rest a few minutes before serving.

Serve with slices of fresh lemon.

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Links:

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch - the place to check to help choose sustainably harvested seafood

Grilled Swordfish with Avocado Salsa - from My Colombian Recipes

Grilled Fish with Citrus Herb Crust - from Steamy Kitchen

Grilled Swordfish with Coriander and Lime - from Inspired Taste

Grilled Tuna Kebabs - here on Simply Recipes

23 Comments

  1. Walter Underwood

    This looks great, a lot like the marinated chicken I made last weekend.

    But…I don’t understand the function of oil in a marinade. It isn’t absorbed, so why is it there? Why not brush it on before grilling?

    The purpose of a marinade is to penetrate, hydrate, flavor, and/or tenderize. Liquid, salt, acid, enzymes (pineapple or papaya), dairy, all those change the meat. Oil sits on the surface and keeps the other ingredients from doing their thing.

    • Elise

      Hi Walter, very good point! I don’t know why it works. Perhaps in this case the oil moderates the acid a bit and keeps it from penetrating too much and “cooking” the fish like ceviche? I almost always have oil in the marinades I use on steak (see our grilled steak skewers). I usually use a 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio in a marinade. Perhaps the oil helps distribute the other ingredients? No idea.

  2. KalynsKitchen

    I love swordfish on the grill and this sounds amazing. Lovely photo too, this is a real winner.

  3. sue/the view from great island

    My husband and I eat lots of fish, but for some reason, I never think to buy swordfish, thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Matt Robinson

    I love swordfish, and this recipe sounds perfect. Can’t wait to try it over the summer!

  5. Allie | Baking a Moment

    Gorgeous! I love the summery Greek flavors here ;)

  6. Bob Y

    Confused. I’ve lived in CA for a little while, and am always surprised to see swordfish at the market. I might be wrong, but I believe swordfish on the east coast is considered endangered. Is this not the case here in CA?

  7. Noelle

    Err, isn’t swordfish really high in mercury? This recipe looks delicious, but what other types of fish might work?

    • Elise

      Hi Noelle, swordfish, like tuna, is a big fish and does accumulate mercury. So, you shouldn’t eat it that often. As for other fish that would work well, shark and halibut come to mind. Just make sure that you are buying from a sustainable source.

  8. Pat

    I have swordfish in my freezer and this marinade sounds wonderful. I will fire up the grill. :)

  9. Susan

    i love grilled swordfish. i will be trying this the next time we get some fresh.

  10. Cactus Wren

    Looks good, but is there a reason the marinade includes specifically both fresh and dried oregano?

    • Elise

      Hi Cactus, they have slightly different flavors actually. If you have both fresh and dried available, use them both. If not, use whatever you have.

  11. Peter

    Did this tonight, and the lemon was a bit too much, so I suggest being careful in how much is added to the marinade. I followed the recipe to a tee, and, while the fish was cooked just right, it was a bit ‘dry’ from the acidity of the marinade. I thought the fennel seed addition was marvelous; great flavor nuances. And, yes, we can (occasionally) get decent or even great swordfish here in Boise, ID. I grew up on the east coast, so am very familiar with superb swordfish. Still trying to find a piece to match the one I bought almost 40 years ago in Cohasset, MA…..

  12. Elise Lafosse

    This recipe looks delicious. However I rarely use the grill. I know it will probably taste better on the grill, however how would you recommend cooking it using the oven instead? Should I perhaps broil the steaks on each side for a few minutes? Thank you.

  13. alanna

    I don’t want to ruin your recipe, but I’m living in New Zealand and shopping is limited here. I am fairly often gifted fresh snapper. Could I use this marinade on a snapper fillet? And the bake it? Perhaps in foil packets? I don’t have access to a grill and I am new when it comes to the world of fish. Any help is much appreciated.

    • Elise

      Hi Alanna, oh the seafood that is available in New Zealand, wonderful! No idea how this marinade will work on red snapper, but snapper is a more delicate fish than swordfish, so you wouldn’t want to marinate it as long. Also, I would recommend baking it, or grilling it in a foil packet, not directly on the grill. If you are baking it, you can do so in parchment. Here’s an example: Salmon Baked in Parchment.

  14. Ashod Martirossian

    Olive oil is used in Greek kitchen for cooking, marinating and tenderizing the meat, specially known for marinating beef. I am not a chemist and I am not Greek either (we use olive oil mainly for salads dressing), but centuries of olive oil use by mediterranean people proovs its marinating qualities. Some nations use olive oil for antibacterial purposes, but I can’t comment for that at all.

  15. budd zuckerman

    Elise, I made this marinade the last week with Swordfish and it was outrageously tasty. I am trying it tonight on thicker Mahi – Mahi filets, should be just as good. Love it. Also must have good fish for starters but this brings out the best of it. Thanks, Budd

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