Portuguese Swordfish Kabobs

Two Portuguese swordfish kabobs with garlic, olive oil, and piri-piri peppers on a black plate

Swordfish is one of only three fish firm enough to keep its shape on a skewer; the others are tuna and monkfish, the poor man’s lobster, either of which can be substituted in this recipe. Espetadas (kabobs), bite-size pieces of meat or fish threaded onto sharpened sticks, are the fairground treat on the island of Madeira. They’re eaten with bread rolls (bolos do caco): yeast-raised buns the size of a dinner plate, traditionally cooked on a bakestone (caco) made of basalt, the rock of which the island is formed — though in modern times, rather less romantically, the caco is made of concrete.–Elisabeth Luard

Portuguese Swordfish Kabobs

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 4
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  • 1 pound swordfish steaks, cut into cubes
  • For the marinade
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, skinned and crushed
  • 1 oregano sprig, crumbled
  • 1 dried piri-piri pepper, crushed, or 1 malagueta pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Coarse salt


  • 1. Thread the fish onto skewers and arrange them on a flat dish.
  • 2. Combine the marinade ingredients, pour them over the kabobs and leave them for an hour or two to take the flavors.
  • 3. Remove from the marinade and drain thoroughly.
  • 4. Heat a small barbecue or broiler to maximum heat and grill the fish kabobs fiercely. Serve with white rice or soft cornmeal porridge (polenta).


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