Thursday, August 4, 2011

Grilled Fish with Peperonata and a Cookbook Review of Everyday Grilling by Sur la Table

I am very behind in my cookbook reviews and Everyday Grilling: 50 Recipes from Appetizers to Desserts by Sur la table kept falling to the bottom of the stack. You see I am not much of a griller. It's not that I am afraid to grill, although I won't say I am completely comfortable with it, but mostly I just find it hot and smoky, and not how I want to spend my cooking time. I am pretty handy with my grill pan though and I am far happier hanging out in the kitchen, fan blowing, and doing my grill work there. So this poor little cook book sat neglected for months, which is a shame really because it is chock full of some wonderful recipes--whether you grill with charcoal, gas, or put the grill pan on the stove. Sur la table, a favorite store to get lost in for hours, is the master of the small cookbook. They always manage to pack in plenty of mouth-watering recipes, cooking tips and colorful photos into small (in this case 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" and 124 pages) square packages.

Everyday Grilling covers it all from an introduction to grilling with tools, tips for the two different types of grills, grilling times, gadgets, etc., to chapters on Appetizers, Salads and Sandwiches, Vegetables, Main Dishes and Desserts. I tabbed some delectable-sounding recipes to make such as Planked Big Easy Shrimp, Grilled Romaine with a Six-Minute Farm Egg, Grilled Tuna Nicoise with Anchovy Vinaigrette, Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich with Asian Pears and Prosciutto, Grilled Leeks with Romesco, Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Sauce, Grilled Country Pork Chops with Bourbon-Basted Grilled Peaches, Grilled Eggplant Cannelloni with Ricotta and Prosciutto, Grilled Pineapple and Pound Cake and Planked Papayas with Fresh Lime Drizzle. A great book for grillers and grilled food lovers, Everyday Grilling would be a fun gift with some grilling sauces or barbecue tools.

The recipe I selected to road test Everyday Grilling was the Grilled Swordfish with Peperonata. I love grilled fish, it's easy to do on a grill pan, and I find grilled peppers (and capers!) completely delicious. I was going to get some local swordfish (shutome), but when I got to the store I saw that the blue marlin (kajiki), looked better than the swordfish so I got that instead. Served with an herbed brown jasmine rice and a kale salad, this was a colorful, healthy and delicious dinner, and while I didn't cook it outside on a grill, it was consumed and enjoyed on my lanai.

Everyday Grilling says, "In Italy, peperonata--braised peppers with tomato and onion--is typically served as an antipasto or side dish, but it makes a superb fish topping. Substitute tuna, halibut, or cod for the swordfish, if you prefer. Swordfish should be sliced thin and cooked quickly for maximum juiciness. If your merchant has already sliced it into thick steaks, ask to have it halved horizontally, or do it a home yourself with a long thin knife."

Grilled Swordfish with Peperonata
Everyday Grilling by Sur la table
(Serves 4)

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated plum (Roma type) tomato (*see note)
2 large bell peppers, 1 red & 1 gold, seeds removed and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
kosher or sea salt
generous pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 1/2 Tbsp capers, preferably salt packed, rinsed
red or white wine vinegar
12 fresh basil leaves

steaks, about 6 oz each and 1/2 inch thick (I used kidjiki--Marlin)
extra virgin olive oil
kosher or sea salt
1 tsp fennel seed, crushed in a mortar or spice grinder

To make the peperonata, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and simmer until it loses its raw taste, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and season with salt and hot pepper flakes. Cover and simmer gently until the peppers are tender, about 25 minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture looks dry, or uncover the skillet at the end of cooking to evaporate moisture if the mixture is too juicy. The juices should be concentrated, not runny. Stir in the capers and a splash of vinegar to brighten the flavor, then taste for salt. Set aside to cool until just warm, not hot. Stir in the basil, torn into smaller pieces.

While the peperonata is cooking, prepare a moderate charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium (375 degrees F.). When the peperonata has been set aside to cool, brush the fish generously on both sides with olive oil, then season on both sides with salt and fennel seed. Grill directly over the coals or gas flame, turning once, until the fish is white throughout but still juicy, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the swordfish to a serving platter. Top each steak with some of the warm peperonata, mounding it attractively. Serve immediately.

*Note: To grate plum (Roma type) tomatoes, cut the tomato in half lengthwise. Discard the seeds if the recipe directs. Grate the tomato flesh on the coarse holes of a box grater until only the tomato skin remains in your hand. Discard the skin.

Notes/Results: This was excellent, each bite packed with flavor from the peperonata. In fact, I may just have to recommend that a side dish of this peperonata be served with all grilled fish (or chicken, sausages, tofu... sticks, roof tiles...), it is THAT tasty. ;-) I loved the tasty contrast of the sweet peppers with the hot pepper flakes and spark from the the tangy vinegar and capers. It does take a little time to prepare with the chopping and braising but it is easy enough and well worth the time. A delicious and colorful dish, I have a feeling that I will make this peperonata often.

Disclosure Statement: This book was provided to me from the publisher to review but my thoughts, opinions and experiences cooking from it are all my own.


  1. I am SO not a griller either...possibly because I don't own one and probably won't in the foreseeable future. But a grill pan? THAT I can do.

    This peperonata looks delicious! Definitely the perfect topping for that swordfish!

  2. That would go down extremely well at my house! It looks beautiful.

  3. Great dish...I love grilled (or any type, really) fish with any veggie or fruity medley and this peperonata sounds fantastic!

    p.s...I was hoping maybe you could gushy arrange a shrimp recipe for me. ha ha ha ha.... sorry.

  4. I've never been to Sur la Table, and can only imagine the time I'd spend there...your dish looks colorful and delicious!

  5. What a beautiful dish. We are grillers so this is on our list.

  6. I've never had swordfish but that looks so good. Even though I'm not a fish eater.


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