Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Black Scabbard Fillets with a Coriander, Garlic and Lime Pesto

Black Scabbard, known as Sabre in French, is a fish which is sometimes sold in our local supermarket in the form of long fillets without skin.  It is a deep sea fish with a rather frightening appearance.

I bought two fillets yesterday weighing a little more than half a kilogram in total.  Each one was about 18 inches long (500mm) and two to three inches wide (50 to 75mm).  I had intended to make a couple of roulades (rolls) holding them together with bamboo skewers.  Then I remembered another recipe that I enjoy, which makes use of grilled monkfish wrapped in pancetta and so I bought some thinly sliced, uncooked, smoked ham.  Passing the vegetable counter I bought some endives (chicory), a lime and some fresh coriander.

At home I decided that if I rolled up the ham inside the fish it wouldn't cook but go soggy, so instead I made a pesto of several large cloves of garlic, the zest of a lime, some finely chopped coriander, salt, pepper, with a little olive oil and the juice of half a lime, to spread on half of each fillet.  Then I folded them over and cut through the folded end to make two long “sandwiches” of fish.  I laid ham along the top and cut each of them across the middle to make four pieces which would fit in a rectangular dish in the oven.

I chopped up a large endive into smallish pieces, cut up some butternut squash into chip shaped pieces (not thin like French fries) and laid these vegetables in the bottom of the dish.  I put the fish on top and drizzled it all with olive oil.  I covered the dish with aluminium foil and cooked it in the oven for about 20 minutes at gas mark 5, then took the foil off and gave it about another ten minutes. (All times are approximate and depend on your oven temperature.  Check the fish and vegetables with a blunt skewer, if it goes in easily they are ready). 

The vegetables, the fish and the pesto made a lovely sauce which needed nothing else.  A few black olives would have added to the visual appeal.

If I had bothered to cook rice or potatoes the dish would have easily been enough for four, but as it was we finished it between the two of us.  The fish was quite firm, without bones and it was very tasty!

I later realised that I had eaten sabre in Madeira where it is known as espada (scabbard fish)  and was a favourite in the restaurants there.


Serves 4
600g Scabbard fish - in the form of two large fillets.
One or two Endives- depending on the size chopped into large pieces.
300g Butternut squash or pumpkin – cut into thick batons.
100g Uncooked smoked ham – in the form of thin slices.
4 or 5 chunky cloves of garlic – peeled and finely chopped, use a whole bulb if small.
Zest of one lime
Juice of half a lime
A bunch of fresh Coriander – finely chopped
Black olives – a small handful
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper


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