I know we all made very good resolutions for the New Year about eating less and exercising more and cutting out gluten or sugar or solid food or air or whatever the latest best thing to cut is.
We didn’t cut out butter did we?
Because here’s the deal with these lovely swordfish steaks that are easy enough for a quick weeknight meal and fancy enough for your next company’s-coming meal.
A tiny bit of butter on the steaks right before we put them in the oven makes them absolutely perfect. Butter, lemon, and thyme. And a hot pan. That’s all you need to make these swordfish steaks. The butter is essential.
The butter and the thyme and the squeeze of lemon mingle together in the oven to create a nice, fancy sauce for the swordfish that will make you feel like you are eating in a five star restaurant. Which Garrett basically is every night. (<– no).
There are a few rules we need to set to get the most out of the few ingredients we are using. First, we need to use fresh thyme. Second, fresh squeezed lemon from an actual lemon that grew on a tree (not a plastic bottle shaped like a lemon). Third, real butter – not some strange butter substitute.
Most importantly though, we need our cast iron pan to be HOT. To get my pan nice and hot, I let it preheat in the oven while the oven is also pre-heating. Then I take it out and put it on my burner over medium-high heat. Here’s a tip my dad taught me to know if your pan is hot enough: the five second test. Put your hand just over your cast iron skillet. Can you keep it there for five seconds? If yes, then your pan isn’t hot enough. Keep heating until it’s too hot to keep your hand over it.
There’s one more important step before we start cooking. We want the surface of our swordfish steaks to be as dry as possible because that’s how we get a nice sear when we put them in our hot skillet. I like to put mine on a few paper towels (top and bottom) while my oven and pan are pre-heating. If you have more time, you can store them in your fridge uncovered for a few hours (the air will help dry out the surface of the fish).
Okay, now let’s get to cooking. Season one side of the swordfish steaks with kosher salt and pepper then place them seasoned-side down in the pan. DON’T TOUCH THEM! Let them sear for 1 minute, and DON’T MOVE THEM AROUND. While they are searing, go ahead and season the side that’s now the top with salt and pepper. After about a minute, or when the fish come up easily from the pan (if they don’t come up easily, they aren’t done searing), flip them over. Quickly top the fish with a tablespoon of butter, a few fresh thyme leaves, and a squeeze of lemon.
Now put the entire pan in the oven so the fish can continue cooking and our butter + thyme + lemon can become better acquainted. The time in the oven will depend on the thickness of your swordfish. These took about 8 minutes at 400*. The goal is to cook the steaks until the fish is white throughout and easily comes apart with a fork.
Top with a little extra squeeze of lemon and a few thyme leaves and dig in!
- 2 Swordfish steaks (about 6 ounces, 1 inch thick)
- Kosher salt
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Thyme sprig
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- Cooking spray
- Place cast iron skillet in oven and heat oven to 400.
- Dry swordfish steaks and season one side liberally with kosher salt and pepper.
- Place heated cast iron on stove and spray lightly with cooking spray. Place fish in skillet seasoned-side down. Let sear for 1 minute. While fish is searing, season top side with salt and pepper.
- Turn fish over and top each steak with tablespoon of butter, lemon juice, and a few thyme leaves.
- Move pan to pre-heated oven and bake for 6 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
- Top with more lemon juice and serve immediately.