Pumpkin swordfish is a rare variety of swordfish that has an orange, pumpkin-like color to its flesh. It gets this unique coloration and flavor from the krill and shrimp it feeds on. Here’s an overview of what makes this fish special:
Why It’s Called Pumpkin Swordfish
Pumpkin swordfish gets its name from the distinctive orange color of its flesh. Unlike regular swordfish, which has a whitish gray flesh, pumpkin swordfish flesh ranges from a rich salmon color to a bright orange that resembles pumpkin.
This orange hue is not artificial – it comes entirely from the natural carotenoids found in the crustaceans and shellfish that make up its diet.
What Does Pumpkin Swordfish Taste Like?
Pumpkin swordfish flesh is not flavored or altered in any way from regular swordfish meat. The unique diet is what gives it its signature pumpkin-inspired name. Pumpkin swordfish does, however, have a higher fat content, which gives it a rich buttery flavor.
What Makes It Different
There are a few key differences that set pumpkin swordfish apart from regular swordfish:
- It has a higher fat content due to the krill and shrimp diet. This gives pumpkin swordfish a richer, butterier flavor than its leaner counterpart.
- The texture is often described as tender, juicy, and delicate – unlike the firm, meaty flesh of white swordfish.
- It has a markedly sweeter and more succulent taste. The flavor is subtle with a buttery finish.
- Pumpkin swordfish is an incredibly rare find – only 1 in every 3,000 swordfish caught are this unique orange variety. Finding one is like winning the lottery for many fishermen.
Seasonality and Availability
The best time to find pumpkin swordfish is during peak swordfish season from July to December. However, since it’s so uncommon, it’s difficult to predict when fishermen will happen to catch them. Here are some tips on finding this rare delicacy:
- Check with local specialty fish markets, especially ones that work closely with local fishermen. Pumpkin swordfish often sells out quickly due to high demand.
- Look for online seafood companies that ship nationally and source fish sustainably. Speak to their customer service team about availability.
- Be prepared to pay a higher price tag due to its delicacy status. It can cost over 50% more per pound than regular swordfish.
Cooking and Serving Pumpkin Swordfish
The rich flavor and delicate texture of pumpkin swordfish lends itself best to quick, simple cooking methods:
Pan searing or grilling over high heat helps develop a crispy exterior while keeping the interior succulent and flaky. Baking also works well. Lighter preparations allow the subtle sweetness to shine through.
Complimentary flavors include garlic, lemon, herbs like parsley or chives, and butter. Avoid overpowering spices and let the fish be the star.
This rare delicacy makes an incredible substitution in seafood soups, stews, and chowders that traditionally call for meatier fish like halibut or cod. Its uniqueness deserves to be showcased on special occasions.
Pumpkin Swordfish Recipe
Pan Seared Pumpkin Swordfish with Lemon Caper Sauce
Pumpkin swordfish is a delicacy that deserves a simple preparation to let its rich sweetness shine. This easy pan seared recipe finishes with a bright lemon caper sauce that complements the fish beautifully.
|For the Fish
|2 pumpkin swordfish steaks (6 oz each)
|1 tbsp olive oil
|Salt and pepper to taste
|For the Sauce
|1 tbsp unsalted butter
|3 tbsp lemon juice
|2 tbsp capers, rinsed
|1 tsp lemon zest
|Salt and pepper to taste
- Pat the swordfish steaks dry with a paper towel and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- When the oil shimmers, add the fish steaks and cook for 4 minutes per side. The fish should have an opaque, cooked appearance.
- Transfer the cooked fish to plates and tent with foil to keep warm.
- In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Once frothy, add the lemon juice, capers, and lemon zest, stirring frequently for 1 minute.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
- Spoon the lemon caper sauce over the plated swordfish to serve.
Pumpkin Swordfish Recipe Tips
- Use heavy cream or whole butter instead of lemon juice for a richer sauce.
- Try sprinkling the fish with cajun seasoning before cooking for a bolder flavor.
- Garnish with chopped parsley or thinly sliced lemon rounds.
The pumpkin swordfish’s delicately sweet flavor pairs so nicely with the bright, briny lemon caper sauce. This simple yet elegant preparation is perfect for a special occasion meal.