Wine and Garlic Marinated Black Scabbard (Espadarte em Vinho d’alhos)

Serves 4

While this dish from Madeira uses fish steaks of black scabbard which are marinated then fried, you can use large marinated cubes of the fish, just thread onto water soaked wooden skewers and grill over a wood fire. Fresh tuna steaks may be substituted.

  • Four 1-inch thick fish steaks (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt or as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2-4  garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large bay leaf, crumbled
  • Pinch crushed dried chili pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped very ripe tomato
  • 1 cup wine vinegar, red or white
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or as needed
  1. Rinse the fish steaks in ice cold water and pat dry. Place on a clean workspace. Using a mortar pestle make a paste with the salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, crumbled bay leaf and 1/2 cup olive oil to make a loose seasoning paste. Rub the seasoning on all sides of the four steaks and place the fish steaks, in a single layer, in a non-reactive flat ceramic or glass casserole shaped dish or stainless steel pan.
  2. Sprinkle the chopped tomato over. Slowly, pour in the wine vinegar, being careful not to “wash” the seasoning off the fish steaks. Use enough wine vinegar to cover the fish completely. With a fork, gently lift up each steak to make sure the wine reaches under them as well.
  3. Cover and let stand for 30 to 60 minutes- not more.
  4. Drain from the marinade, dust with the flour, shaking off any excess, then pan fry in remaining olive oil, 5 minutes, each side for 1 –inch thick steaks.  Serve with boiled potatoes with extra chopped garlic, some extra olive oil and vinegar on the side.
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