If all the subsequent recipes come out as well as this one, we will be very very happy eaters up here.
My first recipe comes from Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Italian Cooking," the Italian equivalent of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." This 1992 volume combines two earlier books, and I like it very much for its simplicity and comprehensiveness, and the emphasis on the best, absolutely fresh ingredients. Regardless of where we all live, the world has become much smaller, and it's possible now to find ingredients that were unavailable or even unknown when I was learning to cook several decades ago. However, there's nothing exotic about this meal - it's the essence of summer, with an Italian twist.
According to the author, this is how fish is often grilled in Romagna, on the northern Adriatic coast. It couldn't be simpler, and although I've cooked marinated fish steaks before, the secret here is the inclusion of bread crumbs during the marinating process, which hold the marinade and then form a delicious crust on the outside of the fish. You can use a whole fish or, as I did today, fish steaks - this was a very nice 1-pound piece of swordfish. I served the grilled fish with an Italian potato salad (potatoes cooked quickly, cut in 1/4 inch slices, tossed with 3 T red wine vinegar, kept at room emperature and then tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper before serving); quickly boiled green beans with olive oil and lemon peel, also at room temperature; and fresh tomatoes with basil, balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of sugar. Add a chilled white wine and a little bread to sop up the juices and you'll be in fish heaven.
So: first wash the fish steaks in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle them with quite a lot of salt and pepper. In a flat dish (I used a pyrex pie plate) whisk together 1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, plus some finely chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried. Put the fish into this mixture and turn it over a couple of times. Now take 1/4 cup plain, fine bread crumbs and coat the fish on both sides - pat it onto the fish so it will stick, and carefully turn the steaks over and do the same thing to the other side. The crumbs should absorb some of the oil. Now let them sit for 1-2 hours, turning them once and re-patting the crumbs to form an even coating.
When you're ready to eat, preheat a charcoal grill or a broiler - I used our regular electric broiler in the stove - and let it get hot - 15 minutes for an inside broiler, white ash on charcoal or wood. Grill the fish 4-5 inches from the heat, basting with any leftover marinade - I cooked these 3/4" steaks 5 minutes on the first side, 4 minutes on the second. Serve immediately, garnished with more rosemary sprigs or lemon slices if you want. It was the most succulent swordfish I've ever tasted, and J. agreed!