Swordfish with Smoked Paprika

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank


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


Showing 4 of 14 Comments

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Kalyn

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

  • 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).

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