Swordfish Skewers with Escoveitch Tartar Sauce

Shacks on the beach in Hellshire, Jamaica, make a dish called escoveitch by deep-frying fish in giant pots over open fires, then serving it in a peppery vinegar sauce. In his riff, chef Bradford Thompson opts to skewer and grill his fish instead of frying it; he also transforms the vinegar sauce by mixing it with mayonnaise, so it's a little bit like tartar sauce.

Total Time:
1 hrs


  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, halved

  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

  • 7 allspice berries, cracked

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar

  • Pinch of sugar

  • 1 small chayote—halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1-by-1/4-inch matchsticks

  • 1 carrot, cut into 1-by-1/4-inch matchsticks

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 pounds skinless swordfish steaks (1 inch thick), cut into 1-by-2-inch pieces

  • 24 cherry tomatoes

  • Vegetable oil, for brushing


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the Scotch bonnet half with the onion, allspice, bay leaf, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain the vinegar into a medium bowl and let cool.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil and fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch the chayote and carrot in the boiling water just until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain and transfer to the bowl of ice water. Drain and squeeze dry, then pat dry.

  3. Add the chayote and carrot to the vinegar along with the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper. Mince the remaining Scotch bonnet half and add it to the sauce.

  4. Light a grill. Loosely thread the swordfish on 6 pairs of skewers. Thread the tomatoes on single skewers. Lightly brush the fish and tomatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning as necessary, until lightly charred and just cooked through, about 4 minutes for the tomatoes and 7 minutes for the swordfish. Transfer the skewers to a platter and pass the sauce at the table.

Make Ahead

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Suggested Pairing

Swordfish, while meaty, is not an oily fish so it can pair well with light reds and rosés, as well as whites (as can other similar fish). Try opening a chilled rosé from California with Thompson's skewers—it's a great outdoor, summertime combination. Two to look for are Bonny Doon Vineyard's strawberry-scented 2007 Vin Gris de Cigare or the crisp 2006 Terre Rouge Vin Gris d'Amador.

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