Tamarind Glazed Swordfish with Lime, Cilantro and Tamarind Sauce

July 16, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves 2 (with extra sauce leftover)
Author Notes

The combination of primary ingredients for the sauce here is inspired by Dana Jacobi's Indonesian Beggars' Chicken clay pot recipe, which has been a favorite of my immediate family for several years. We use the sauce on chicken and fish - roasted, baked, broiled, grilled, you name it -- on a regular basis. Try it and you'll see why. The sauce isn't pretty, but it smells and tastes heavenly. Make sure to serve some brown rice or a grain with this. You'll want it, as a means to deliver more sauce. This glaze and sauce work really well with mahi mahi filets, too, by the way. Each side will need less time on the grill, of course. Enjoy!! ;o) - Antonia James —AntoniaJames

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a delightful dish for a warm summer night -- light, rich and tasty. It comes together easier than one might think and you will want to save that extra sauce for dipping. The complexity of the ingredients makes for a fireworks show on the palate and is really is true to its Indonesian roots. I only had one dilemma, friends called and wanted to come over and I offered dinner. Forgetting that I wanted to test this recipe I realized I didn't have enough to serve this wonderful dish as an entree. Change things up a little and it became an appetizer, and a great appetizer to boot. Don't forgo the pumpkin seeds and I went with a couple of Thai chile peppers too.- thirschfeld —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 pounds of swordfish steaks
  • 2 one-inch cubes of solid, seeded tamarind pulp (known in some shops as "tamarind paste")
  • 2 limes
  • Handful of cilantro, including stems
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, or more to taste, peeled
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed, or an equivalent amount of paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 or 3 medium shallots
  • 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons (divided) organic soy sauce (one with a rich taste, and not too salty)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flavorless vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine (or white wine)
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  1. BEGIN TO MAKE THE GLAZE: Soften one of the cubes of tamarind paste in a small bowl with about two tablespoons of very hot water. Let it sit, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the sauce for the fish.
  2. MAKE THE CILANTRO TAMARIND PASTE: Put the cilantro, garlic, tamarind, 2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon of soy sauce, the onion, shallots, anchovies or anchovy paste, and the juice of half of one lime into your food processor. Pull the tamarind apart into small pieces before putting into the food processor, to make sure there are no hard seeds in it. If you want heat, add a fresh chili that has been coarsely chopped.
  3. Process for about ten seconds, scrape down, process again, scrape down and, if necessary, process a third time. You want the pieces to be small and the mixture well combined, but you do not want a liquidy puree.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a small, heavy saucepan with a lid. Before it starts to smoke, add the onion, cilantro and tamarind mixture and stir well. Simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Put the lid on and set aside. It will hold, unrefrigerated, for a few hours.
  5. PREPARE THE FISH: Fire up your grill to medium heat or preheat your oven on the broiler setting. If broiling, put some foil down on the pan. Pat dry the swordfish steaks and sprinkle well with salt. Rub in the olive oil. Juice another half lime and set aside.
  6. FINISH MAKING THE GLAZE: Press the tamarind pulp through a fine strainer. Add the juice of half a lime and a teaspoon of soy sauce. Juice the other half lime and set aside.
  7. TOAST THE PUMPKIN SEEDS, IF USING: Preheat the oven to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet lined with parchment, on the top shelf of your oven, turning once, for about five minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and toss in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of soy sauce or more to taste. Put back in the oven on the parchment-lined pan for 2 - 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  8. COOK THE FISH: When the grill or broiler is hot - you want your coals to be white -- cook the fish on one side for 3 -5 minutes minutes, depending on the thickness of the steaks and on how well you like your swordfish cooked.
  9. While the fish is grilling, bring the sauce to a good simmer over medium heat. Add the rice wine and cook for a minute or two. (When I broil, I don't pierce the foil, so that I can collect the juices, which I then strain and add to the sauce at this point.) Taste the sauce and add more lime juice -- or a pinch of sugar if it's too tart -- and salt, to taste.
  10. Flip the fish over and baste with the tamarind glaze. Cook the second side, then flip once more and baste again, cooking only for about ten or fifteen seconds.
  11. Serve with the sauce. Garnish with the tamari roasted pumpkin seeds, if using.
  12. Enjoy!! ;o)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • Sagegreen
  • Fry cook
    Fry cook
  • Stockout

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

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7 Reviews

Fry C. August 16, 2013
You are deliciously welcome. Salmon roti wraps...oh my.
Bon appetit AJ
AntoniaJames August 20, 2013
Used the sauce for wraps with mahi mahi the other night. We flaked the quickly pan-seared fish into the warm sauce before spooning it onto the roti with avocado and lettuce dressed in a light citrus vinaigrette. Outstanding! Will post that as a separate recipe when time permits. I forgot to add the pomegranate molasses. (I've made this sauce so many times for roast chicken and to spoon over grilled meats and pan seared fish, I could make it in my sleep.) Next time! ;o)
AntoniaJames August 16, 2013
Thank you, Fry cook! What a great idea, adding pomegranate molasses. That's a key ingredient in the simple sauce I whisk up for the salmon roti wraps I serve my family. I think I'll use this recipe with your suggested addition for some mahi mahi wraps we'll be having tomorrow. (I'll post that as a new recipe next week. We stuff the roti with green beans tossed in the same sauce.) Thanks again. ;o)
Fry C. August 15, 2013
Brilliant recipe. Added a shot of pomegranate molasses and 1.5 T muscovado sugar and a red chili. Very versatile sauce...Chix with peanuts next.
Stockout October 23, 2010
Ok went to Whole Foods today and I got the swordfish. Even though I do not want to freeze them, I have no choice. I will be back next Thursday. I hope your package is there when I get home and my swordfish is ready for grilling next weekend. You are a sweetheart for being who you
My Yankee's have left me on the curb, I hope your Giants give you a ride at least.
Stockout October 19, 2010
I have a food pickle question but for your recipe. I can not buy Tamarind paste anywhere that I shop locally. I even asked the Goya sales rep if he could convince my store to stock it. What I can buy is Tamarind juice in a small can. If I reduce the juice to a very thick syrup, can I use it in this recipe or will the reduction cause it to be sweet and not tart as it should be? I am dying to make this recipe before the decent grilling days are gone. I will probably have to order it on-line if you say nay to the reduction. Do you know if Whole Foods carries it. I will be making a foray there in the next 2 weeks.
Sagegreen July 29, 2010
Love the photo! Must try this. Congrats.