Great Eats: This time of summer the Atlantic Harpoon swordfish are in season. New England fishermen call it “harpoon” season. The fisherman, or “strikers,” head out to the Western Atlantic Ocean in small fishing boats and actually hunt the ocean surface for the swordfish. When one is spotted near the surface the striker harpoons the big fish by hand. A fish caught this way can range from 150 to 600 pounds.
Striker Fisherman Goes After a Swordfish
A striker goes after a Swordfish on a calm day.
Each day the daily catch is brought in and sold to local markets, and the Swordfish steaks usually end up on someone’s plate in less than 24 hours, creating an incredible New England seafood experience for enlightened connoisseurs.
The practice of harpooning swordfish predates industrial scale fishing or “long line fishing” where thousands of baited hooks hang on floated lines that can be more than 30 miles long. The long-line hooks do not discriminate between the type and size of fish caught and experts say the practice in the past has depleted swordfish stocks in some places. International laws are now in place now to limit the catch of the long lines, and these fishermen are closely monitored.
Harpoon swordfish hunters, or “strikers,” take their catch at a much slower, more selective rate. The strikers only go after the large fish that are well past breeding age and avoid baby swordfish in the breeding grounds. The fish are then delivered fresh daily to markets and restaurants in New England. The selective practice presents no threat to swordfish stocks.
Swordfish Season Begins in Summer
While swordfish are found worldwide they are only in season in New England during the summer when the water is warmer. According to research, the big fish tend to congregate where ocean waters have sharp temperature breaks (above 58°F) and where strong ocean currents meet. This creates a turbulent environment where there is abundant food. Along with the strikers, sport fishermen also ply these waters with rod and tackle seeking the big Swordfish.
Whether broiled, baked, grilled or on a kabob, fresh from the ocean swordfish is a favorite of first-time seafood initiates as well as seafood connoisseurs. Swordfish has a meaty texture and mild flavor. Swordfish also offers a low-fat, low-calorie healthy choice for all seafood lovers. Fresh swordfish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals that are good for the heart.
Atlantic Harpoon Swordfish, fresh off the dock, is among the most popular Boston and Cape Cod seafood treats. This time of summer, many downtown restaurants feature day-boat swordfish steaks. In fact, the delicious fish is almost as popular as a specialty steak in Boston steakhouses.
The most popular fresh summer swordfish recipe is also the simplest. Marinated and grilled.
Try This Delicious Swordfish Recipe
Here is a great recipe for a one-pound, 1 ½ -inch thick fresh swordfish steak.
Mix in a bowl:
a teaspoon of fresh chopped basil,
½ cup of olive oil,
a small clove of chopped fresh garlic,
fresh ground pepper to taste.
If desired, a dash of fresh lime or lemon juice may be added.
Coat the steak and let marinate for one to two hours. Cook on a medium-high grill for four minutes on each side, or until firm to the touch. Only flip the steak once. Do not overcook as the swordfish will get dry very quickly. Remove from the grill and let stand for one minute before partitioning. Leave the skin on when grilling to help keep the fish moist but remove to partition and serve.
Today fresh Atlantic swordfish can be shipped overnight by a Cape Cod online seafood retailer anywhere in the United States. This means anyone – from Florida to Kansas – can enjoy delicious swordfish that only 24 hours earlier were swimming in the clean, crisp ocean waters off Cape Cod.
Seafood, shellfish and lobster have been the author's passion since he was a boy growing up in Connecticut, capturing lobster by hand by diving with just a mask and fins. Now he offers his favorite recipes, cooking tips and news to all seafood lovers. He has been publishing the Lobster Fly Seafood Blog since 2011. Howe in 1998 was the founder of the first online live Maine lobster delivery service Lobsters-Online.Com.