When warmly sunny but still-cool-breezed perfect June evening skies fill with the sunset struggles of rising pink against descending blue… while the cottony cumulus clouds play witness to those resplendent dances, rippling their muscular ethereal striations across the horizontal distance… that’s when Little Red rears his domed head, warms his coiled tonsils, and yawns his PAC-MAN maw, inviting us to sear and sizzle something summery and sumptuous on the grated surface of his cavity’s heat.
Summer, for the Fountains, equals seafood, and a quick excursion to the North Shore yesterday yielded us two perfect swordfish steaks we wanted to prepare in the simplest and most straightforward way. I learned this recipe from I don’t know where, but I do remember when: my friend John called me up out of the blue one afternoon, saying “I’ve been deep-sea fishing this morning, and I have a side of fresh-clubbed tuna; feel like cooking?” (I thought I’d told this story before, but I hadn’t – even though I did make a variation on this recipe once already, a long long time – and another camera – ago …)
Of course I felt like cooking! But I wanted to showcase the fish, and not focus on any extraneous flavors, and this recipe (the source of which I really can’t recall–is that plagiarism?) – a meringue of mayonnaise with only a sprinkling of salt and pepper – seemed the most honest way to go. On that perfect night, it was a *perfect* dish. Years later, tonight, it was a perfect preparation again, only this time with tuna’s less florid cousin, the fierce and compelling swordfish (I mean, what kind of evolutionary development lead to that mythical probiscus? Well, I do work at Harvard; I can probably find someone to ask exactly that question…)
Succulent juicy grill-seared swordsteaks along with some pan-grilled potato tots (oh, yes, you’re reading that right) — a Lolita signature dish (that I just came up with) — and an alternatively sweet, salty, and milky side salad, this al fresco supper on our wee deck in the sky was a perfect meal for a Monday night. Light, sumptuous substantial seafood, with bursting pillowy potato packets and a freshsharpsaltysweetcreamedcurd salad – incredible! $21 and 45 minutes: a wonderful weeknight wondermeal anyone would love.
Cape Cod Swordfish, with Mango, Mozzarella, and Caper Salad, and Lolita’s Potato Tots
10-12 tiny little red/white potatoes
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 8z oz fresh swordfish (or tuna) steaks
1 small mango
1 boll fresh mozzarella cheese
3 tbs capers
white balsamic vinegar
baby romaine lettuce
I wash and peel the middles (only) out of my spuds. These tiny babies are barely an inch in diameter each; they elicited remarks from the man behind me in line at Whole Foods – he thought they looked delicious. And they are, dear man; they are.
I toss them with EVOO, my chopped rosemary, some salt and pepper, and then I spread them out on a small, non-stick cake pan, which I set on my as-hot-as-it-gets (350-375°) electric grill. What? Using a non-stick cake-pan on a grill is a bad thing? Well, you have to use what you have, and, frankly….
… considering the way these babies cook in this set-up, my jerry-rig is inspired! Every 10 minutes or so, I roll these little potato nuggets over a 1/4 turn in the hot spiced EVOO spread across the bottom of the pan. Each side sears and crisps, just like the perfect crunchy crust of a pub-potato skin, while the insides bake to a creamy, ethereal consistency. After 20 minutes, I…
… break out my swordfish steaks. These babies are about 1/2″ thick.
The Cape Cod preparation, according to the mystery recipe I remember but can’t find, is nothing but a *very* healthy slathering of mayo. I mean *VERY HEALTHY* – like 1 1/2 tbs per steak side. Lots of it will fall off when you flip the steaks, so don’t be shy with the initial layer.
After covering completely with a thick layer of mayo, sprinkle heartily with salt and pepper.
Lay each steak mayo side down on the hot grill grate, then slather, salt, and pepper each upside. Lower the lid, and roast for 8 minutes (or so).
Flip. Roast another 5 minutes, or until the bottom mayo had browned and crusted, too. Oh yeah. All that moisturizing egg has been absorbed into my fish flesh, and my sword is as juicy as a succulent tenderloin steak.
As my steaks have been cooking, I’ve cut a fresh mango and a boll of fresh mozzarella into chunks, and I’ve added them with a few tablespoons of briny pickled capers to a bowl of baby romaine lettuce leaves. A sprinkling of balsamic vinegar, a glug or two of EVOO, some trusty salt and pepper, and a few tosses later my bowl is a beautiful salad.
As the sun sets in the west, my juicy seared swordfish steaks, my plump bursting packages of perfectly seared outside creamy inside potatoes, and my snappy creamy salad with sweet mango and salty capers fills my plate and palate with the fresh flavors of summer, sun, and satisfaction. On my breezy deck, overlooking the rooftops of Cambridgeport, with the sun in my eyes and the sweetly scented breezes in my hair, this 30-45 minute outdoor dinner is just one of many coming in the next few months of Boston’s best season.