Fennel and Black Peppercorn Crusted Swordfish with Pan RoastedĀ Carrots

July 14, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is a bistro dish if there ever was one. The fennel black peppercorn crust goes great with swordfish and carrots go great with fennel. It is a win, win in my mind. The thing I know about swordfish is the closer the steak is to the belly the more fat it will have, hence the better the flavor and less sinew. The other thing is it is a steak so you have to treat it like one, and I am not talking about temperature, but letting it rest so it relaxes and becomes tender. Then you reheat it and finish cooking it. - thirschfeld —thirschfeld

Test Kitchen Notes

The dominant flavors of fennel and black pepper with a bridge of thyme....well that's how cravings are born. The unique aromas and taste make this dish intensely delicious and memorable. The interesting rhythms of salting the fish, cooking it, letting it rest, and then baking really do cultivate all the steak-like qualities of the swordfish. You will want to use a steak knife to eat this: It is very meaty. The root vegetables are wonderful as well. I suggest this would be a great recipe for a fall evening because of the heartiness. I love the use of the dry rub at the beginning and then the use of fresh herbs tossed in at the end. I would consider offering a squeeze of lemon while plating. My son and I both enjoyed this immensely, and he is usually not a fan of swordfish. I highly recommend this recipe, it was a pleasure to make and eat. - Sagegreen —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the swordfish:
  • 4 swordfish steaks, about 6 ounces each and 3/4 of an inch thick
  • kosher salt.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • For the swordfish and carrots
  • 20 medium sized carrots of different colors, trimmed and peeled
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed , outer layer removed and shaved into thin slices
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 10 cloves of garlic, trimmed and peeled
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon total of equal parts parsley, chives and thyme, minced
  1. Twenty minutes before, but up to two hours ahead of time, liberally salt the swordfish steaks and set them aside if you are cooking them in twenty minutes, or, if not put them back in the fridge.
  2. Before you are ready to cook the steaks preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grind the fennel, black peppercorns and thyme with a spice grinder. Spread the mix out on a small plate and coat one side of each steak with the spice rub by laying each steak directly into the rub and lightly pushing down on it.
  3. Place a saute pan large enough to hold all the steaks comfortably over high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan. It should shimmer and be very hot but not smoking. Add the steaks spice rub side down.
  4. Let the steaks brown and caramelize but don't blacken them. Turn the heat to medium and add the butter, let it melt and coat the spice side, then turn the steaks and brown the other side.
  5. Remove the steaks from the pan and set them on a sheet tray. They should be medium rare to medium.
  6. Add the onion, fennel and to the saute pan and cook until they begin to soften. Add the carrots and toss them to coat them with oil. Season them with salt and pepper and then add the garlic. Continue to cook on the stove top for about 5 more minutes until the vegetables start to take on a little color.
  7. Now slide the whole pan into the oven. Set a timer for 20 minutes. While the steaks are resting genlty smear a teaspoon of butter across the top, spice side, of each steak.
  8. Once the timer goes off check to see how done the carrots are. They should be close to al dente. If they are then slide the steaks into the oven. Set a time for 8 minutes.
  9. When the timer goes off check to see the swordfish is cooked through and the carrots are tender. Toss the carrots with the parsley, thyme and chives. Plate and serve immediately.
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15 Reviews

duckfat July 8, 2013
I sauteed the vegs and put them in the oven for the 20 mins the recipe called for. Then I sauteed the swordfish and put it in the oven for another 8 mins. and everything was cooked to perfection. I love fennel and used farm marked multi-colored carrots. The swordfish was perfectly tender. This recipe is a keeper.
duckfat July 7, 2013
I'm going to make this tonight but I'll saute the carrots and fennel and have them in the oven before I saute the swordfish. It doesn't seem like a good idea to let the fish sit for 20 mins. on the counter (especially in July).
PepperBruce October 27, 2012
I am the owner of and would like to give this recipe a try. We also like to post recipes that feature pepper as an ingredient so I woul like to ask permission to publish this on my site with credit to this site or the authro. How about it?

I think Vietnamese pepper would pair nicely with this dish.
Bruce Morgan
sherylann July 25, 2012
we just had this for dinner. wonderful!!! i only prepared the fish and it was excellent.
Emi March 16, 2011
I made this two nights ago, substituting baby carrots for convenience.
absolutely ethereal
Sagegreen July 24, 2010
This is pretty delicious. Do you rinse the salt off or just wipe it off dry with the first step?
thirschfeld July 24, 2010
I wipe it off dry and then coat it with the feenel crust. I have always found ocean fish can take more salt for se reason.
Sagegreen July 24, 2010
Oh, good. That's what I did as well. I really love the intensity of all the flavors! Looking forward to writing up my testing!
thirschfeld July 29, 2010
Thank you so much for testing my recipe. I always appreciate it when some one takes the time to make a recipe of mine and I am so glad you enjoyed it.
dymnyno July 16, 2010
You always come through with a rock solid recipe and a great photograph!
thirschfeld July 19, 2010
I appreciate the kind words dymnyno
melissav July 15, 2010
Love it.
thirschfeld July 19, 2010
Thanks melissav
EmilyNunn July 15, 2010
This sounds dreamy.
thirschfeld July 15, 2010
Thanks ENunn.