It has been around forever

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Espada's True Face

I just had to share this email from a good friend of mine, Brad Trebach, who just returned from Portugal. It is hard to believe but it looks like in any language, Espada is a bottom feeder. "I just returned from a visit to Madeira, a wonderful Portuguese island in the Atlantic some 320 miles off the northwest coast of Africa. The Madeirans specialize in catching and cooking a horrifically ugly fish known in English as the black scabbard. It has enormous eyes, sharp needle-like teeth and a body shaped like a scabbard, or a sword sheath. But the reason this hideous-looking fish is of special interest to Bronx political junkies is because its name in Portuguese is the ESPADA. And it just so happens that the Espada is a bottom-feeder that eats other bottom-feeders. By the way, it can be deliciously prepared with bananas, with passion fruit, poached in champagne or simply fried. And here's a photo taken last week by my son of some fresh espada heads in the fish market in Funchal, Madeira's capital city."


  1. When you know all about Espada the politician, you will realize that he is even more gruesome than that terrifying fish.

  2. Who knew that he is so aptly named?

  3. Here's are nice recipes for Madeira Black Scabbard Fish from the website


    Black Scabbard Recipes

    It is difficult to ship the Black Scabbard fish abroad as it does not keep well and is best served fresh. Despite that, many efforts are undertaken by locals who want to send their homesick relatives abroad a bit of heart warming Madeira memories: frozen scabbard wrapped tight in foil leaves the island in temperature controlled parcels. Those lucky enough to acquire some fillets can try the recipes below.

    Black Scabbard with Fried Banana

    Ingredients: 4 scabbard fillets, salt to taste, fresh ground pepper to taste, several cloves of garlic, lemon juice, 2 eggs and a cup of bread crumbs.

    Preparation: season the fish with the salt, pepper, crushed garlic and lemon juice. Roll the fillets in flour and then dip the fish fillets in the beaten egg yolks. Finally cover with the bread crumbs Heat a pan of oil and once hot enough lay the fillets into the oil and bake until the fish turns a crispy golden brown. Drain the excess oil and then fry slices of banana lengthways in the pan.

    Black Scabbard "Vinho e Alhos" (Wine and Garlic)

    Ingredients: 750 gr. of Black Scabbard fillet, 100 ml of Vinegar, 1 tomato, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf, salt and ground black pepper to taste, flour to taste, and olive oil to taste.

    Preparation: slice the Scabbard fillets into portions of about 6 cm sizes. Season the fillets with the salt, pepper, crushed garlic, and bay leaf. Let it stand for about half an hour. Thereafter soak the fillets with the vinegar and spread over with the finely sliced tomato. Leave the fish to marinate in all the juices for another half hour. Once the time is up roll the fillets in flour and dip into the heated olive oil in a pan. Once golden remove the filets from the stove and drain the fillets of the oil. Return the pan to the stove and cook the left over marinated juices till it starts to boil. Soak the fish into the hot marinated juices and let it cook till it boils again. Once cooked remove from the pan and serve immediately. Accompaniments may include baked or broiled potatoes in salt, with fried onion rings or even baked maize meal or corn cubes.

  4. Is that fish also known as an Espaillat?

  5. OK, so Portugal has that ugly Espada fish and some tasty ways to cook it. But please don't forget that we have hundreds of other varieties of great seafood (everything from Abalone to Whitefish, fresh, frozen, cured and smoked) right here in New York City thanks to the New Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point, THE BRONX.

  6. Damn that's ugly!