The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat swordfish. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What swordfish etiquette is

Swordfish etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat swordfish. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve swordfish to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat swordfish at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat swordfish

What you should know about swordfish

Swordfish are large predatory fish that inhabit temperate and tropical oceans around the world. They are highly migratory and can be found at depths of up to 2,100 feet (640 meters).

Swordfish has a distinctive appearance, with a long, sword-like bill, a slender body, and a large, deeply forked tail. They are usually dark brown or black on top and white underneath. Swordfish have firm, meaty flesh with a mild, sweet flavor and a slightly oily texture.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat swordfish

1) How to store swordfish

Store swordfish at a temperature between 30-34°F (-1 to 1°C) in the fridge or freezer. If you store it in the pantry, you should consume it within 2 hours of purchase. When properly stored, swordfish can last for up to 2 days in the fridge and 3-4 months in the freezer. It can last for up to 1 year when vacuum-sealed and stored in the freezer.

Store sliced or cooked swordfish in an airtight container in the fridge and consume it within 3-4 days.

2) How to clean swordfish

To clean swordfish, remove the skin, head, tail, and internal organs. There is a risk of contamination with certain bacteria, so make sure to clean the fish thoroughly with a sharp knife and sanitize all surfaces and tools. You can use a fish scaler or descaler tool to remove the scales.

Signs that swordfish has turned bad include a foul odor, a slimy texture, and discoloration or spots on the flesh.

3) How to prepare & cook swordfish

Swordfish can be eaten both raw and cooked. To prepare swordfish for cooking, it can be grilled, broiled, baked, sautéed, or fried. Common utensils used to prepare and cook swordfish include knives, cutting boards, pans, and grills.

Some popular swordfish dishes include grilled swordfish steaks, swordfish skewers, swordfish tacos, and swordfish salads.

Swordfish can be used in salads and sandwiches. However, it is not suitable for juice, smoothies, jam, or preserves. Swordfish is not appropriate for vegan or vegetarian diets, but it can be consumed as part of a keto or paleo diet.

4) How to serve & present swordfish

Swordfish can be served for formal or informal meals and is suitable for lunch, dinner, or as an appetizer. It is typically served as a main course.

Swordfish can be served on a plate or a bowl, with serving tools such as tongs or a fish spatula. The ideal serving temperature is between 125-145°F (52-63°C).

You can accompany the swordfish with a variety of seasonings and accompaniments, such as lemon, garlic, olive oil, herbs, and spices.

5) Food and wine to pair swordfish with

Swordfish pairs well with flavors such as citrus, garlic, and herbs. It can pair with a variety of vegetables, such as roasted root vegetables, grilled zucchini, sautéed spinach, asparagus, artichokes, and bell peppers. It also pairs well with oranges, grapefruit, and tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple. Vegetables that may not pair well with swordfish include bitter greens and starchy vegetables such as potatoes.

Swordfish is not a typical pairing with cheese or dairy. Swordfish can pair with other fish, such as tuna and salmon, as well as with meats such as chicken and beef. It does not pair well with strong-flavored fish such as mackerel or sardines.

Swordfish pairs well with both white and red wines, but the choice ultimately depends on how it is prepared. Grilled or broiled swordfish pairs well with a dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, while baked or sautéed swordfish pairs well with a light-bodied red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. Rosé wine, sparkling wine, and beer can also complement swordfish, while dessert wine and spirits are less common pairings.

6) How to eat swordfish

Eat swordfish with a fork and knife. It is not polite to eat it with your fingers.

The swordfish is usually served as a fillet, and the skin can be left on or removed depending on personal preference. It is customary to remove any bones before eating.

Swordfish etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common swordfish etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Not properly removing any bones.
  • 7/10. Serving the swordfish too cold or too hot.
  • 7/10. Not providing a proper utensil for eating, such as a dull knife or a flimsy fork.
  • 6/10. Overcooking the swordfish, as it can become tough and lose its flavor.

Additional information for properly serving swordfish

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Swordfish is a low-calorie seafood option, containing about 100-130 calories per 3.5-ounce serving (100 grams). A single swordfish typically weighs around 150-200 pounds and is usually divided into fillets for serving.

How to buy the best swordfish

A crucial factor in swordfish etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Swordfish is available year-round, but the peak season varies by location. In the United States, the peak season for swordfish is typically June through September.

Choose the best

You can find swordfish in commerce in several forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, and smoked. Fresh swordfish is typically sold as whole fish or fillets, while canned and smoked swordfish is typically sold in specialty stores.

The most popular varieties of swordfish in commerce include North Atlantic swordfish, Pacific swordfish, and Mediterranean swordfish. North Atlantic swordfish is considered the most prized due to its rich, meaty flavor and firm texture.

When buying swordfish, look for fillets that are firm and glossy, with a fresh, ocean-like smell. The flesh should be moist but not slimy, and there should be no brown spots or discoloration. It is also important to buy swordfish from a reputable seller and to check for any certification or sustainability labels.

Alternatives to swordfish

Some common alternatives to swordfish include tuna, halibut, and mahi-mahi. These fish have a similar texture and flavor profile to swordfish and can be used in many of the same recipes.