Swordish, Fennel and Orange Salad

It is great to live on a latitude of 52 degrees in summer, because we get so much sunlight in the evenings. Now it’s payback time however, as the sun sets very early. When I saw fresh swordfish at the fishmonger (rather than frozen, which is usual), I decided to make this salad to bring a bit of the brightness of summer into the dark winter. The swordfish is served raw in this salad. If you don’t like that, you could briefly sear it in olive oil over very high heat and still serve it with a fennel and orange salad.

The aniseed flavor of the fennel is enhanced by some fresh tarragon. The dressing of the salad is simply the juice that leaks from the orange when you peel and slice it with some olive oil, salt, orange zest, and garlic. Very simple food that is probably most suited for summer, but nice in winter if you are longing for summer like I am.


For 2 servings

300 grams (.66 lb) sashimi grade swordfish fillet

2 fennel bulbs

2 oranges

1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

1/2 clove garlic, finely minced

4 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste


Discard the bruised outer part of the fennel and cut off the base. Now slice it crosswise and thinly until you reach the green tops. Keep them to make vegetable stock or these delicious fennel meatballs. Put the sliced fennel in a bowl.

Zest one of the oranges and add the zest to the fennel.

Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, such that you completely remove the white pith and the membranes. Do this above the bowl of fennel to catch the orange juice. (I can’t take a photo while holding the orange with the knife above the bowl.)

Now slice the orange flesh from between the membranes. This is called ‘supreme the orange’. Add the orange segments (which should be completely without white pith and membranes) to the fennel, and discard the rest.

Dice the swordfish into 1 cm (1/2″) dice, and add to the bowl together with the tarragon, garlic, orange zest, olive oil, and salt to taste. If you like you could add some freshly ground pepper as well. Toss and allow to marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Serve at once. (If prepping in advance, only mix the ingredients 15 minutes before serving as otherwise you will be serving swordish ceviche. That is nice as well, but another dish.)

Wine pairing

Because of the citrus this is great with a crisp riesling.


One of my signature dishes is sea bass cooked sous-vide and then crisped on the skin side in very hot clarified butter. The contrast between the amazingly tender and succulent fish and the crispy skin is simply wonderful. I have already been preparing it for two years, and I will continue to do so. The beautiful photo was taken at a later date by Conor when he was visiting with the Wife, but the post is from two years ago. Since the seabass only needs 10 minutes in water of 48ºC/118ºF, this is a perfect dish for you to try if you don’t have a sous-vide cooker. You only need a pot with water and a digital thermometer, as well as ziploc bag.


19 thoughts on “Swordish, Fennel and Orange Salad

  1. My wife would love this with Arctic Char (swordfish just doesn’t happen here). I like the idea of the fennel and orange with fish and I just saw fresh fennel bulbs in our local store yesterday.


  2. Well, Stefan, I think it is so great that use you fresh ingredients (yay for spotting the wonderful fish).
    This is definitely a perfect meal for those dark nights of winter. In New Mexico, we live in what is called the “High Desert,” at high altitude in the mountains, where skiing, etc., is common. Like you, the summer nights are lovely and the sun sets quite early in the winter, before 17:00.
    The licorice-flavored fennel is one of my favorites – and how smart of you to pair it with bright citrus zest and tarragon.
    You mentioned that folks could briefly sear their fish, if desired. Alternatively, they could prepare a ceviche in a bit of orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and then drain. It would only take about fifteen minutes.
    Thank you for sharing – and enjoy your weekend – and your vacation.


          1. Breaking Bad – yes, I loved that show. The last season was completely insane, no? I can assure you my husband is not a Walt… but as for the amount of you know what in New Mexico; completely accurate. Best, Shanna


  3. Love fennel and orange salad [both in my Christmas food order!] but in my case also the swordfish will have to be substituted with ‘potluck’ at the fishmongers! Have not prepped it quite this way but shall! I am almost missing the summer/winter ‘extremes’ of N Europe, as at 34 S it is a wee bit boring: almost the longest day of the year and it gets light after 5am and darkish by 7.30 pm or so – remember a childhood of 10 pm light and being in Norway later to hardly see any darkness at all – glorious!!


  4. Hi, Stefan. Great looking meal. It’s really funny you posted this dish because I was actually thinking about doing a sous vide poached swordfish with a nice fennel and orange salad. Great flavors. Now, however, I must do something else. 😉


  5. So much to love about this post, Stefan. In the past, I would not have thought my fish fresh to use it raw in the salad. Now, though, I trust my fishmongers enough to trust their response to my questions. It sure does make a striking salad, raw or seared. The aroma of the fennel and orange complete the dish. Perfect!


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