Thursday, May 16, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Rollatine di Pesce Spada - Swordfish or Chicken Breast Rolls / Swordfish, Mackerel, Tuna and Shrimp

The weather here in Manitoba has finally made up its mind.
It's Spring - time for some barbecuing.
Tomorrow's Friday.
Why not fire up the grill for some fish?

I found a recipe for grilled Swordfish rolls - Rollatine di Pesce Spada - in 
Tony's chapter Grilling - Italian Style in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook.

So I went to the butcher/fish monger at my local market.
He usually got a laugh when I asked for some of Carmela's more exotic ingredients.
Well... exotic for a shop in the north end of Winnipeg.
Yes, he got a laugh out of this one, too.

After he stopped laughing he gave me a history lesson.
In 1998 there was an advertising campaign - "Give Swordfish a Break" - 
because swordfish were in danger of extinction.
Even fancy chefs removed North Atlantic swordfish from their menus.
Many supermarkets did the same.
So it wasn't just because we're in the boonies in Winnipeg.
I guess Tony isn't too concerned about some fish becoming extinct.

The butcher then explained why swordfish became so popular.
Swordfish, an oily fish, has firm and thick steaks, which grill well.
He suggested I substitute mackerel or tuna.
They are also oily large fish, which are also sold as steaks.
Mackerel, tuna and shrimp are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Not having swordfish may not be such a huge loss.
He also said that swordfish has high levels of mercury.
Guess Tony is more worried about dying from lead lead than he is about 
the effects of mercury poisoning.

The flesh of some swordfish has an orange tint.
They get that from eating shrimp. 
Shrimp has low levels of mercury.
It is considered heart healthy because it doesn't have much saturated fat.
Shrimp's cholesterol improves the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol.
And shrimp also lowers triglycerides.

So, if I wanted a heart health promoting orangey fish why not cut out 
the middleman, er, middlefish.
Shrimp of all sizes is always available in the frozen food section.

Back to this recipe…
The butcher didn't have any tuna or mackerel steaks.
Big surprise there.
But he suggested using skinless, boneless chicken breast.
Which is also always available.
Chicken breast doesn't have mercury and is also heart healthy.
Okay, then… Chicken breast rolls it is.

If you're broiling, place the pan 4 inches from the heat.

                        Rollatine di Pesce Spada

Serves 6

Prepare a medium hot fire in a grill, either charcoal or gas.
Place the grill rack 4 inches from the heat.

Remove the skin and cut into very thin slices
1 1/2 pounds swordfish
Place the swordfish slices between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.
Gently pound the slices to a 1/4-inch thickness.
Cut the fish into 3 x 2-inch pieces.

In a bowl combine
3/4 Cup plain bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons chopped drained capers
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Mix well.

Place a tablespoon of the crumb mixture at a narrow end of each piece of fish, 
roll up the fish, and fasten it closed with a toothpick.

Whisk together
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Brush the mixture over the rolls.
Sprinkle any of the remaining bread crumb mixture over the fish.
Pat it so it sticks well to the fish.

Grill the rolls for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for slightly rare.
They should be browned and feel firm in the centre.
Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Would I make Rollatine di Pesce Spada again?
Sure, using chicken breast.
I'll leave the swordfish for Tony and the guys.
Mercury is the least of their worries.

One recipe down.  Ten more to go.

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