Olive-Oil-Poached Swordfish and Tomatoes with Olives and Capers

July 14, 2010

Author Notes: For about a decade, I'd been meaning to make a swordfish dish I'd heard about from an editor friend back in NYC: a thick round slowly poached in a big pot of olive oil with capers. But I never got around to olive oil poaching until I tried Amanda's shrimp a la Bittman. I loved it-- it was a success and a hit. So simple, so good. So I decided to try the method on swordfish at last, using flavors that may seem no-brainerish: lemon, capers, garlic, olives, tomato. I decided not to let that stop me since we never really use our entire brain anyway. This is so easy and delicious, and as one of my pictures shows, it was gobbled up by the man who lives here, who claims not to like fish. The dog liked it, too.EmilyNunn

Serves: 2


  • extra virgin olive oil, several cups
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup oil cured black olives, pitted and quartered
  • 2 pieces swordfish, 6-8 ounces
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, or a mixture
  • sea salt, about 1/2 tsp, and freshly ground pepper
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 250. Place several cups of olive oil in a Dutch oven with a lid. Warm over very low heat; add garlic cloves, capers, olives. Place swordfish steaks in oil; you may need to move the garlic cloves around so that the fish rests evenly, but it is fine for the fish to lie on the capers. Add more olive oil to cover entire surface of fish by at least the height of a caper. Season with salt and a little freshly ground pepper.
  2. Place in oven, with lid. Let cook for 20 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking for 10 to 15 more minutes until done; it should still have a bit of translucence in the middle. (As Amanda has pointed out: 30 minutes for a 1 inch thick piece of fish--mine was a little thicker).
  3. For beauty's sake, use a knife blade to lightly scrape and lift away the lovely fat that has oozed to the top side of the fish and discard. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon; cover loosely with tinfoil and set aside. .
  4. With a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes, about half of the capers and all of the olives to a saucepan. Discard the garlic. Crush some of the tomatoes, which will be soft and juicy. Turn heat on to medium low. Season with lemon juice and zest, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Add a little of the remaining olive oil if necessary. Let simmer a bit to thicken. Adjust flavors. You can add more lemon! Spoon sauce prettily over each piece of fish and serve.

More Great Recipes:
Italian|Capers|Clove|Seafood|Swordfish|Tomato|Olive Oil|Entree

Reviews (17) Questions (2)

17 Reviews

Ascender September 2, 2011
What do you suggest doing with the used oil? Can it be re-used or used in another recipe where the flavors would be appropriate?
LeeT February 11, 2011
LOVE the picture idea used here, ha, ha! MUST have been delicious, right?
dymnyno July 22, 2010
I can't believe that this is not a finalist!!! I am making this for dinner tomorrow. I love that it is not just ingredients but involves a unique technique.
drbabs July 22, 2010
I was surpised, too.
Author Comment
EmilyNunn July 22, 2010
I love the two that ARE finalists. (But I do think the poached tomatoes were crazy-good!)
lisaiscooking July 22, 2010
Sounds fantastic. I was just thinking about cooking swordfish tomorrow night.
mrslarkin July 14, 2010
Oh. My. Goodness.
Author Comment
EmilyNunn July 14, 2010
Tell me what you think if you make it, MrsL. It's so easy.
mrslarkin July 14, 2010
I will! I bet leftovers would be lovely in a nicoise salad, instead of tuna.
dymnyno July 14, 2010
Poaching in olive oil is so perfect for a fish that has a tendency to get dry. Your brain got it all together for this one. lucky dog! I am ready to try swordfish again...thanks for a nice recipe.
Author Comment
EmilyNunn July 14, 2010
Thank you. It's been a while since I'd had any swordfish, too, and now I feel like I've been missing out. I have to say this method really brings out that juicy flavorful meaty thing that makes some non-fish fans appreciate it. I just had some cold leftovers for lunch, and it was still so tender and lovely. I hope you like it.
MyCommunalTable July 14, 2010
I love fish oil poached. Get idea and thanks for reminding me of it. I just want to get a crusty loaf of bread and all the fixings and make it soon.
Author Comment
EmilyNunn July 14, 2010
You are welcome! I got some beautiful swordfish at the South Side Whole Foods. I love the butchers at that particular store, too--you are in Chicago still, correct?
MyCommunalTable July 14, 2010
Yep, in Chicago, north side (Lincoln Square) and I usually go to the Fish Guy on Elston. With my young son having food allergies, I rarely cook fish just for myself, but my oldest son is moving in with us in the fall to go to culinary school at IIA downtown. I am looking forward to cooking fish then. He is coming back from S. Korea, so I bet he will teach me a few new things as well. Never been to WF on south side, but love the new huge one on North. They even have a trail mix bar. Holy Moly.
drbabs July 14, 2010
lastnightsdinner July 14, 2010
I'll second that.
Author Comment
EmilyNunn July 14, 2010
That's what I just said when I ate the cold leftovers! I hope you two will try it, and if you do let me know what you think of it. We had it with some grilled eggplant slices with feta and oregano that I'm killing on my terrace.