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Grilled West Coast Swordfish with Marjoram and Pine Nut Relish

Courtesy Brian Collins, owner/chef, Ember, Arroyo Grande, CA

Ember restaurant is in Brian Collins’s hometown of Arroyo Grande, California, just a stone’s throw from the surf breaks of Pismo Beach. Six years in the kitchen at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse gave the chef and restaurant owner plenty of California cuisine cred, but his primary inspiration is Italian cooking.

He says this dish captures the spirit of both by emphasizing local ingredients and keeping the preparations simple.

Ingredients for Swordfish

Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
4 swordfish steaks, 1-inch thick
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 2 lemons
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Pine Nut Relish (ingredients and directions below)

Directions for Swordfish

Season both sides of swordfish steaks well with salt and pepper. Place in large, deep bowl.

Combine olive oil, lemon zest and garlic, and pour over fish. Set aside for 1 hour. Heat grill to high.

Remove fish from marinade, and shake gently to remove excess liquid. Place fish on hottest part of grill, and cook 3 minutes. Flip, and cook 3 minutes, or until fish warmed through and centers are slightly opaque.

Place fish on serving platter. Dollop generously with relish. Serves 4.

Ingredients for Pine Nut Relish

1 cup small-diced red onion
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 threads saffron
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup currants
¼ cup minced parsley
3 tablespoons minced marjoram
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt, to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions for Pine Nut Relish

In small pot over low heat, add onions, saffron and olive oil. Stirring occasionally, cook until translucent and tender, about 1 hour. Don’t let onions brown. Remove from heat, and let sit until mixture returns to room temperature.
Fold in nuts, currants, parsley, marjoram and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Wine Pairing

Collins stays close to home for a wine to pair with this fish. “I would recommend the Ann Albert Chardonnay from Zotovich Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills,” he says. “Great acid and…minerality in the wine that harmonize with the citrus notes in the swordfish dish. The wine structurally is a match for the slightly hearty, rustic-grilled west coast swordfish.”