Cook's Illustrated

Fish for Meat Lovers

It seems funny to admit that a fish was once my nemesis, but there was a spell back when I was a line cook when that was exactly the case. For five straight nights, I carefully prepared what appeared to be pristine swordfish steaks and began to plate them up, only to find that they were soft and mushy. The restaurant waitstaff then had to inform the diner that his or her entrée choice had been taken off the menu for the evening. Back then, I didn’t know what to attribute the poor—not to mention wasteful—results to, and we ultimately stopped serving swordfish altogether. But I’ve long wondered why the texture of swordfish can sometimes be perfect—meaty, juicy, and tender—and other times so unpleasant. It was time to use a scientific approach to figure out why—and come up with a solution.

It would be a worthwhile effort: I knew that swordfish, unlike silky salmon or flaky halibut, at least had the potential to offer a unique dense meatiness. This distinctive texture, combined

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