Swordfish with Smoked Paprika

One of the best, and easiest ways to prepare swordfish, or any dense, meaty fish is this method by Simply Recipes contributor Hank Shaw. Enjoy! ~Elise

Swordfish is a cornerstone food throughout the Mediterranean, and this Spanish recipe may be one of the finest ways to cook sword anywhere. The meaty fish, smoked paprika, pine nuts, garlic and parsley all meld into a rich, savory dish that takes you right to the sunny shores of the Costa Brava in Catalonia.

I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t swordfish endangered? No. Or at least it’s not endangered anywhere around the United States. The various fish watchdog organizations all give consumers the green light to eat as much swordfish as they want, provided it was caught in North American or Hawaiian waters. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch gives American sword either a “best choice” or “good alternative” rating, depending on how it’s caught.

If you’ve never worked with swordfish, it is dense and meaty. It also has an inedible rubbery skin that must be removed. When shopping for sword, pay attention to the bloodline, that red patch of meat in the steak. It should be red. If it is brown, the fish is old.

Good alternatives to swordfish, if you can’t find it, are farm-raised sturgeon, yellowfin tuna or albacore, tilefish, mahi mahi or even shrimp. I often use leopard shark I catch myself, but many commercially caught sharks are not faring well, so I don’t recommend you buy shark for this or any other dish.

This is a recipe that comes together very fast, so have everything you need ready.

Serve with crusty bread and either a crisp white wine, a dry rose or a glass of ice cold, very dry fino sherry.

Swordfish with Smoked Paprika Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

You will need to use a Roma or other paste tomato for this recipe. Regular tomatoes are too watery.



  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound swordfish or other firm, white fish
  • Salt
  • Flour for dusting
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • 4 Roma or other paste tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
  • Black pepper



1 Remove the skin from the swordfish and cut it into cubes. Salt the fish well and dust the cubes in flour. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the swordfish chunks in one layer. Sear them well on at least two sides. Give the first side 1-2 minutes, then sear other sides for 30 seconds to 1 minute each.


2 When the swordfish is cooked, remove it to a bowl and reserve. Add the garlic slices and sauté 30 seconds or so — the second it begins to brown, add the tomatoes, parsley, white wine, pine nuts and paprika. Toss to combine and cook 1 minute, then add the swordfish back to the pan, toss to combine and cook another 30 seconds or so. Serve at once.

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Spanish Shark with Smoked Paprika - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Fish with Risotto, Mussels and Pimenton Broth - from Matt Wright
Octopus with Paprika - from Leite's Culinaria
Grilled Swordfish with Citrus Herb Crust - from Steamy Kitchen



  1. Sylvie (A Pot of Tea)

    What a wonderful looking dish. I can only imagine how good it would taste! Looks like a must try.

  2. Jessica J

    I’ve never seen a swordfish recipe like this before, definitely adding it to my list of fish recipes to try. Might be a while, as it is hard to find quality fish in Kentucky :)

  3. Kevin

    I’ve only tried swordfish once but I remember it being somewhat dry and tough. I hope that would not be the case with this recipe?

    Swordfish is only dry and tough if you overcook it, so err on the side of undercooking rather than overcooking and you should be OK. ~Hank

  4. Jon Prochovnick

    This recipe sounds fabulous… Now having said that, the Environmental Defense Fund Seafood Selector gives only a “yellow” (eco-OK) for US Swordfish, and a “red” (eco-Worst) for imported Swordfish. There is no Swordfish under “green” (eco-Best). I will absolutely try it, but with a different fish :(

  5. Melanie

    OMG! Absolutely delishious. I don’t know that we had the right paprika and we used canned tomatoes instead of fresh, but this was so wonderful. And it smelled so good. The fish was not dry at all. I wonder about adding artichokes to up the veggie quotient?

    You mean artichoke hearts? That sounds pretty good, actually! Give it a go and let me know how you like it! ~Hank

  6. Amber @ The Cook's Sister

    This recipe looks fantastic! I’ve only had swordfish a few times, but this looks like something I could make at home!

  7. Paul

    Love the site and the recipe looks tasty, but eating “as much swordfish as you want” is a recipe for very high mercury intake. Swordfish is right at the top of seafood with high mercury levels. Once in a while is a wiser policy.

    I’ll meet you halfway. You bring up a good point about mercury, but swordfish mercury levels are lower than a lot of other fish you find in a market, such as tuna or striped bass. So yeah, maybe not “as much as you want,” but once or twice a month is fine. I’m not in a tax bracket rich enough to afford it more often ;-) ~Hank

  8. Tara T-S

    What is a paste tomato? Not sure we have that expression in England :)

    A Roma or San Marzano tomato – the kind you make sauce with. ~Hank

  9. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    YUMMY!! I love a good sauce with fish :)

  10. shawn heneghan

    Looks wonderful – as soon as I return from St. Patricks day camp trip I will try it.

    I especially love the cooking time for the swordfish cubes – 1 to 2 minutes a side x 2 sides plus 30 seconds in the hot liquid equals less then 5 minutes total. I always tell people the secret to tender/juicy swordfish, scallops, salmon etc. is five minutes.

  11. Ewa

    Swordfish, I never ate it but I have to try. I see that it is prepared quickly and easily. So, I write a new recipe in my notebook with good recipes :)

  12. Jeno

    This sounds lovely and very Spanish! I’ve been living in Barcelona for the past two years and have become huge fan of pimenton. Can we call it pimentón instead of smoked paprika, please? Something you could add to the dish would be to add a “picada” – blend some almonds, saffron, flat leaf parsley, olive oil and some stale bread and add the mixture at the end to give more body and aroma. Catalonia uses a lot of monk fish or salted cod fillets for this sort of recipe. Thanks, Hank!

  13. Javelin Warrior

    This is gorgeous – the colors are astonishingly beautiful and the swordfish looks so delicious… I am featuring this post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. It’s a pleasure following your creations…

  14. Lindsey

    This looks so good! I have some sturgeon in my freezer that my husband caught on a fishing trip that I’ve been wondering how to use up. The flavor of the fish alone isn’t super good, so I think it would be better in a recipe like this with stronger flavors.

    Sturgeon would be perfect for this! ~Hank

  15. Bela

    Oh my god! This is sooo good! Fresh qualty sword fish is a bit pricey, but Whole Foods gave me a good deal. It’s well worth it! My wifey is not into smoked flavors so I made it with quality Hungarian paprika (we are Hungarian).

  16. Kim

    Smoked paprika is one of the most wonderful spices in my kitchen. I can’t wait to try this one.

  17. Fahad Khan (@PharaohKhan)

    I saw the picture on top of page – and I so much knew I had to read the recipe!
    Beautiful picture,and the recipe is so simple,and so easy – Surprising!Perfect for home cooking on busy week nights,also for dinner party treats!
    Thank you so much for sharing;This gets noted down/Bookmarked!:-)

  18. Kalyn

    This sounds just fabulous. Swordfish is pretty pricey here, but Mahi Mahi would be good.

  19. jayts

    I made this last night. It was as delicious (and easy)as it sounds. The toasted pine nuts, smoked paprika and garlic create an interesting combination of flavors. I highly recommend it.

  20. Lindsey

    Okay, I made this with sturgeon and it was so good. The flavor of the sauce was amazing, I can’t wait to try it with some other types of meat.

  21. RD

    I’ve made this twice now and it was great both times. The first time with swordfish as the recipe calls for (and mashed potatoes). The second time with albacore tuna steaks (and bulgur wheat pilaf) as the store did not have any swordfish. This is recipe is very good. I would like to try it with Mahi Mahi next time. Just be sure not to overcook the fish.

    Side note: When I was a little kid growing up in the East San Gabriel Valley in Southern California during the 60’s my Mom would go to an Asian fish market and get swordfish steaks because they were so inexpensive. She would fry them in butter in a cast iron skillet and serve with lemon wedges. So good.

  22. Lindsey Case

    I’m making this tonight with tilapia and swordfish!

  23. Paul

    I appreciate your comment, Hank, and I agree that a couple of times a month is fine for some people. But having studied this issue extensively – and trust me, I’m not a nut about this kind of thing – I can say that people are a lot less aware than they should be that eating certain fish frequently can be unhealthy. Even the EPA and FDA (which have been criticized for not being protective enough about this) recommend that women of childbearing age and children not eat swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel at all due to high mercury content.

    So it seems. I thought sword was lower in mercury than it appears to be. I will still be eating it, of course, but for women of childbearing age and children I’d recommend North American shrimp, Pacific halibut, or another firm fish. One clarification on tilefish, however — it is VERY low in mercury if caught in the North Atlantic, which is where I always got mine. ~Hank

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