Grilled Swordfish with Baby Clams, Wild Leeks, Asparagus, and Retsina-Scented Lemon-Mint Broth
I think this is one of spring’s best dishes. It’s light, aromatic, and easy to put together. It’s best made in a saucepan called a sauteuse, a large shallow pan with handles that can serve as a saucepan, casserole, or Dutch oven.
Any flaky white fish such as snapper or wild striped bass can be used in place of the swordfish. You’ll know the grill is hot enough to cook the fish perfectly when you can hold your palm about 2 inches above the grill for 2 seconds any longer and the grill is too cold, any shorter and it is too hot.
What you will Needed
- 12 ramps
- 18 pencil-thin unpeeled asparagus spears, trimmed and blanched
- 30 clams in the shell, such as Manila or Mahogany
- About 1/4 cup olive oil
- Six 7-ounce, 1-inch-thick skin-on swordfish steaks
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup retsina wine
- 3 cups Clam Broth
- Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon torn fresh mint leaves, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
What to do
- Wash the ramps well and trim off the roots. Using a small sharp knife, cut the white part off on the bias and then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Cut the leaves into 1/4-inch-wide- strips. Set both aside, separately.
- Cut the top 1 1/2 inches from each piece of asparagus. Cut the remaining spears crosswise into 1/8-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Using a rough, green kitchen scrub pad, vigorously wipe the clams clean under cold running water. Place in a large bowl of cold salted water and swish to purge the clams of any sand. Drain and repeat twice more. Drain well and set aside.
- Clean and lightly coat the grill with olive oil. Preheat to medium high.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the swordfish with some of the olive oil. Then season with salt and pepper to taste. Lay the fish directly on the grill and cover. Grill, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn, cover again, and continue to grill for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque and the skin is lightly charred. Using a fish spatula, transfer the fish to a large serving platter. Tent lightly with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauteuse over medium heat. Add the white pieces of ramps along with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, or until the ramps are quite fragrant and beginning to soften. Do not allow them to take on any color.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the wine, stirring to blend. Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the pan is almost dry.
- Add the broth, followed by the clams. Add half of the lemon juice, cover, and bring to a bare simmer. As soon as the mixture comes to a simmer, begin checking the clams. As they open, transfer them to a saute pan fitted with a lid using a slotted spoon. Continue removing clams as they open. This method speeds the cooking and keeps the claims from overcooking. Discard any clams that don’t open within 8 minutes.
- Add about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid to the clams and then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil. Cover and keep warm.
- Taste the cooking liquid and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the asparagus and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Immediately fold in the reserved ramp leaf strips. Add the spinach, mint leaves, and remaining lemon juice along with the zest. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning. You should have a clear, vibrant broth with a perfect balance of light flavors. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
- Place 3 asparagus tips equidistant around the edge of each of 6 large shallow wide-rimmed soup bowls. Ladle an equal amount of the ramp-asparagus mixture in the center. Place 3 clams between the asparagus tops and a piece of swordfish in the center. Carefully ladle the broth around the edge without allowing it to splash on the fish. Place 2 clams on top, garnish with a mint sprig, and serve.
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