Recipe Source (sauce): Child, Julia with Lousiette Bertholle and Simone Beck. Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume One. Random House Books, 2008 p. 98
We like sour flavors in this house. Sometimes we like sweets too, but at the end of the day what really grabs all of us are the sour flavors. I've seen my daughter eat tamarind with a spoon. Pomegranate is a dearly beloved favorite of course, and we cannot get enough limes. Every year as spring begins to turn her head to summer the Great Lemon Craving comes upon my husband and then everything under the sun needs MORE LEMON, as though he'd been at sea for ten months and had developed a desperate case of scurvy. It's definitely early for the Great Lemon Craving, but when I made this dish I absolutely had that in mind.
Of course, I also had another thought in mind. An entire stick of butter was going to be entirely too rich a sauce for my husband, and my daughter might not be so keen on it either. When the doctor told us to fatten her up by drenching everything in butter (I'm not making this up), she decided that she simply wouldn't eat. (Yes, the pediatrician and I had some words about that. Now the husband takes the child to the doctor more often than not.) If I was going to serve this frankly over-rich sauce for dinner, I was going to have to do something to cut that fatty flavor and make it palatable for my family. Sorry, Mrs. Child, I know that it's more authentic to do it your way, but if I want my family to eat it I have to cater to their tastes. I'm sure you understand.
Anyway, what I decided to do was to add the zest of the lemons into the sauce. This would dramatically increase the amount of lemon flavor. It also changed the texture a bit, but I felt that was acceptable under the circumstances. I added a little fresh marjoram for contrast and for depth, which sounds pretentious but I really wanted to distract my family from the richness of the butter. I dressed the fish very simply before broiling it under the broiler - just a pinch of salt and a little bit of Aleppo pepper was enough.
The results were very well received. The remaining sauce was stirred into whichever starch was served with the dinner, I can't recall if it was barley or millet that day. No one commented on the butter, and the marjoram and lemon made an excellent distraction from the butter. I personally felt that the dish could use a little less lemon zest but neither spouse nor child agreed with me, so I'll yield to majority opinion on that one.
Swordfish with Lemon-Butter Sauce (Serves 3; approx. $6.09/serving)
1 pound swordfish steak
Kosher salt and Aleppo pepper to taste
2 lemons, zest and juice
a few sprigs of fresh marjoram, leaves only, chopped
1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 - 4 cup saucepan
- Wire whisk
- Broiler pan and broiler
- Preheat your broiler.
- Boil down your lemon juice until there is about 1 tablespoon left. You don't have to be exact about this, but you do need to pay careful attention to avoid setting your pan on fire.
- Remove the pan from heat. Beat in 2 pieces of the butter with the whisk and set over very low heat.
- Put the swordfish under the broiler. Add a pinch of lemon zest to the sauce and beat in.
- Beat in the rest of the butter, one piece at a time. Do not add another piece until the first piece is incorporated. Add some zest as you go.
- Eventually all of the butter and some of the zest will be incorporated. Stir in a little bit of marjoram. You may have some zest left over and this is fine.
- Remove the sauce from heat. The fish may well be done by now; check the internal temperature.
- Sprinkle some of the leftover lemon zest onto the bottom of your serving pan along with a little bit of the marjoram. Lay the fish on top.
- Pour the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle the rest of the zest and the marjoram over the top as garnish and serve.