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Monday, February 18, 2013

Espadon; Swordfish. Espadon on French Menus.

Espadon – Swordfish, an exceptionally tasty fish.
Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman

A perfectly grilled swordfish steak.
Photograph by courtesy of Ulterior Epicure
    The swordfish is one of the meatiest salt-water fish with swordfish steaks being a favorite on fish restaurant  menus when just simply, and tastily, grilled or fried. Despite the ease of frying or grilling swordfish French chefs  often choose recipes that allows them to show more of their skills. 
Ordering swordfish.

Espadon Fume – - Smoked swordfish; when thinly sliced and served cold as an entrée this is a real treat. I have enjoyed, more than once, a mixed platter of  home-smoked salmon and home-smoked swordfish, that is an excellent contrast in taste and texture; if its on the menu go for it.
Swordfish on sale in the market.
Photograph courtesy of Frank1030
Espadon en Daube -  A swordfish stew.  A fishy take on the traditional Provençal daube, a meat and or game stew made with red wine. Here, in this swordfish recipe the white wine will replace the red, and butter along with crème fraiche will be part of the recipe.
Swordfish Tartare.
Photograph courtesy of Micaiena
Pavé d'Espadon à la Plancha, Pipérade –-  A thick cut of swordfish, fried with olive oil on that thick flat metal plate that is called a  plancha.  The pipérade that accompanies the swordfish is a traditional Basque dish made with the Basque region's famous red peppers, the Piment d'Espelette AOC.  In many Basque recipes these unique red peppers will be fried with onions, green peppers, tomatoes and garlic. In France,  it is unlikely that the pipérade will be very very spicy; however, if you are in the Basque region or are worried ask.

Grilled swordfish with fresh green asparagus.

Photograph by courtesy of Marx Foods.

Catching the swordfish on your French menu.
   The swordfish on your menu, in France, will be fresh from the Atlantic, and or the Mediterranean.  While a truly giant swordfish  may reach over 4 meters from the tip of the sword to the tip of its tail, the local fishermen and women will be catching fish that reach up two meters and that still means one large fish.
A swordfish caught on a long line 
in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Photograph courtesy of
    From my experience, and for reasons unknown,  swordfish  are on more Southern French menus than those on the Atlantic coasts. Maybe the fishing is better in the warmer Mediterranean waters? (German - schwertfisch), (Italian - pesce d' altura, pesce spada), (Spanish - pez espada, aja pada, chichi spada, emerador, espardarte).

Bryan G Newman

Behind the French Menu
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