Flour the swordfish steaks. In a slightly buttered pan sauté the garlic and chili pepper. As soon as the garlic browns remove it. Add the floured fish and sauté. Then add the white wine, sultana raisins, wild fennel and minced orange peel. As soon as the wine evaporates add the orange and lemon juice and a pinch of crushed pistachios.
Cover and continue cooking, if necessary adding citrus juice.
Serve with the reduced sauce and a handful of pistachios covering the fish, garnishing the platter with two orange slices.
Did you know?
Fishing for swordfish, practiced primarily in the Strait of Messina from April to September, is imbued with something magical and mysterious: commands to the boat crews are still given in a language impossible to translate, probably derived from ancient Greek, which, according to ancient legends, bewitches the fish and makes them easier to catch. The main ingredients of this recipe are very Sicilian, since the island accounts for 70% of Italy’s orange production and a great amount of pistachio nuts are also grown here. In particular, in the Catania area the most extensive citrus groves surround Paternò, southwest of Mount Etna, while the loci (the local name for pistachio orchards) are famous in Bronte, once Admiral Horatio Nelson’s estate and now a Slow Food Presidium. Here, on steep, dry terrain between the volcano and the Nebrodi Moutains grows a variety of pistachio with unique characteristics: the bright green nuts inside the shells have intense, resinous, unmistakable fragrance and taste. The trees are not fertilized or watered – there is no water – and are tended very little and pruned only to remove dried branches and eliminate buds in “clearance” years. Due to high production costs, Bronte pistachios cannot compete with those from the Asian countries supplying Italy’s biggest sweets industries and great pork-dressing companies. Thanks to Slow Food, consumers are rediscovering this very fine product, widely used in Sicilian pastries.