Fried Swordfish Sandwich with Pepper Mayo and Castelvetrano Olive Tapenade

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For the Southern California Bight, Fall and the transition to Winter means the Holidays but for many of us more importantly it means Swordfish season.  The yearly migration of Swordfish into the Bight allows for some great fishing and some of the best table fare around.  Who better to break down a tasty recipe on Swordfish than Tanner Saraspe, who’s family have been in the Swordfish catching business for over 50 years.

Fried Swordfish Sandwich with Pepper Mayo and Castelvetrano Olive Tapenade as explained by Tanner Saraspe

While this recipe does have a lot of moving parts, we promise it’s worth the extra effort. The mayo and tapenade can both be made in advance, but we can’t guarantee you won’t eat it before the sandos are ready. If you can’t find swordfish, any medium-to-full-bodied fish will work just fine.  When purchasing swordfish make sure to try to source responsibly by purchasing rod-and-reel caught or deep-drop-buoy caught swordfish.



Ready in 45 minutes. Makes 4 servings

For the Mayo

• 1 whole head of garlic (roasted with skin on for 30 minutes at 400°F)

• ¼ cup jarred mild pepper such as piquillo (finely chopped)

• 1 teaspoon sweet pimentón paprika

• 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

• Salt and pepper to taste

For the Tapenade

• ½ cup pitted Castelvetrano olives

• 1 tablespoon capers, chopped

• 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• Salt and pepper to taste

For the Fish

• 2 pounds rod-and-reel caught or deep-drop-buoy caught swordfish (skinned and cut into ¾-1-inch- thick medallions)

• ½ cup flour

• 3 large eggs

• 1 egg yolk

• 1 cup fine breadcrumbs

• Salt and pepper

• High-heat oil such as avocado for frying

• Flaky salt such as Maldon for finishing

• 4 Ciabatta sandwich rolls

STEP 1 To make the mayo, remove roasted garlic cloves from their papery skin, coarsely chop or smash and set in a medium mixing bowl. Add the chopped peppers, paprika, and mayonnaise. Stir until mixture is thoroughly combined, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

STEP 2 Next make the tapenade. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the prepped olives, capers and parsley along with the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

STEP 3 When you are ready to fry the fish, prepare your fry station. Pat dry fish and set aside. Arrange three shallow bowls side by side to create your assembly line. Fill one bowl with salt-and-peppered flour, one with the beaten eggs and egg yolk, and one with the breadcrumbs.

STEP 4 Fill a heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet or dutch oven with about ¾-inch of oil. You want the oil to come up about halfway on the fish fillets. Heat the oil to about 350°F or until a bit of flour or a drop of water sizzles when dropped in the hot oil. Take care not to burn yourself.

STEP 5 Depending on the size of your frying vessel, you can work two or four pieces at a time. First dip the swordfish, on both sides, in the seasoned flour mixture until it is completely coated. Next do the same in the egg and finally dredge it completely in the breadcrumbs. Place the medallions in the hot oil and fry until each side is an appetizing golden brown, flipping halfway. For a 1-inch thick piece, it should take approximately four minutes on each side. Remove perfectly-fried fish pieces from the hot oil and transfer to a rack or a towel-lined plate. Season with flaky salt such as Maldon while they are hot (just out of the fryer).

STEP 6 Build your sandwiches by slicing and toasting the rolls. Spread the pepper mayo on all sides of the bread. Layer one fried fish fillet into each sandwich and top with the olive tapenade. Serve immediately.


A special thank you to Tanner Saraspe and Nicole Litvack from Saraspe Seafoods for sharing their wealth of knowledge and recipes. To learn more about our local San Diego Fishery and Products visit: