The ferry from Civitavecchia to Cagliari has a surprisingly good restaurant. It serves Sardinian specialities, one of which is swordfish, smoked over wood from the wild strawberry tree (the same tree whose blossoms are the foundation of the amazing Sardinian bitter honey – if you happen to have any of this add a teaspoon to the dressing in the recipe below).

Most of the time the Saucy Dressings’ Chief Taster spurns swordfish as being dry and tasteless, but smoked, and marinated even (if you have time) he takes a different view.

This is an unusual, and rather splendid starter.


Recipe for Ferry Smoked Swordfish (or Eel) on a Bed of Green and Gold


Serves 6


  • 200g/7 oz smoked swordfish or eel
  • 110g/4 oz bag of mixed leaves – I think this works well with some peppery rocket or watercress and some bitter red leaves – maybe ruccola
  • 1 small orange
  • 1 small lemon
  • 6 tbsps walnut oil
  • 80g/3 oz roughly chopped walnuts – dry fried if you have time
  • Smoked salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Small bunch flat leaved parsley
  • Honey to taste


  1. Juice and zest the lemon (you only want about 2 tbsps of juice – throw away any extra), and add the walnut oil and seasoning. Taste – add honey if necessary.
  2. Cut the swordfish, or eels into thin strips, about the length of three matches. If you are making this ahead, then marinate in the dressing.
  3. Distribute the leaves equally between the plates.
  4. Peel the orange, cutting off as much of the bitter pith as you can. Slice and cut into segments as in the featured image above. Distribute.
  5. Distribute the smoked swordfish or eel artistically between the plates.
  6. Pour over the dressing, scatter over the walnuts, snip over the parsley, and serve.


If you are interested in other Sardinian specialities, follow this link.

If you are interested in other recipes for smoked eel, follow this link.