Can You Eat Swordfish Raw?

Yes, provided you make sure it’s fresh and well prepared. Even then, don’t eat too much of it.

Swordfish is a very popular fish variety, served in many restaurants around the world. It can be served raw or cooked and can be made into a wide variety of dishes. Since some people tend to prefer raw seafood, some wonder whether it’s safe to eat swordfish when it’s raw. In this article, we’ll answer this question in detail. We’ll also go through the benefits and risks associated with eating swordfish.

What Is Swordfish?

Swordfish is a migratory, large predatory fish that can be found mostly in tropical temperatures all over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. They are fast, fierce, polyvalent creatures that can swim near the surface and very deep into the ocean.

They are distinguished by their long, flat, and pointed bills that resemble spears or swords—hence the name. You would like to think that they use their ‘swords’ to destroy their enemies, but they do not. However, they do sometimes use their bills to slash their prey and injure them or defend themselves against larger predators.

What Does Swordfish Taste Like?

Swordfish, as food, has a sweet, fatty, yet mild flavor, although it tastes a bit stronger than other types of fish such as tuna and salmon. Unlike salmon and snapper, it has dense meat that doesn’t fall to bits when cooked. Its light pink texture is appealing and resembles that of an undercooked or rare beef steak.

Is It Okay To Eat Raw Swordfish?

It is mostly safe to eat raw. Eating raw fish usually comes with risks, but if the swordfish is properly caught, frozen, and prepared, there should be no issue.

To eat raw fish with little or no risk, you have to make sure it’s either sashimi or sushi-grade fish. This tells you that the fish is handled with care and is safe for raw consumption. The same applies to swordfish.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you should never eat too much swordfish, raw or cooked, as it is high in mercury. Too much mercury can lead to poisoning. For certain at-risk populations, swordfish should be forgotten altogether.

Can You Eat Undercooked Swordish?

You can consume swordfish raw or undercooked as long as it is extremely fresh, properly frozen, and well prepared. It is often served rare or medium rare in restaurants, so this is not unusual.

If you have any doubt as to the quality of the swordfish, you shouldn’t eat it raw or undercooked, as parasites can cause many health issues. In this case, the safest option is to cook it at a convenient temperature. Fully cooked swordfish eliminates the risk of parasite infection.

Is Swordfish Sashimi-Grade?

High quality fish intended for raw consumption can be labeled as sushi-grade or sashimi-grade. As for swordfish, it can be both. If it’s by itself, it is technically sashimi. If it is served along with other sushi ingredients, it is sushi.

How Can You Eat Swordfish Safely?

Sashimi and sushi-grade fish are judged by their sellers as safe to eat raw. The safest options are to either eat swordfish at reputable sushi restaurants or properly prepare it yourself to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

In addition, it can be dangerous to eat too much swordfish, as it contains a significant amount of mercury. Assuming you’re in a perfect health condition, it is recommended that you do not exceed two moderate servings of swordfish every week.

Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with liver conditions should avoid swordfish and raw fish of any kind. The risk of complications would be far greater.

What Are the Risks Of Eating Raw Swordfish?

Mercury Levels

The main risk associated with eating swordfish, regardless of how it’s served, is the fact that it contains relatively high mercury levels. Blue marlin, shark, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, Chilean sea bass, king mackerel, and tilefish are other fish that contain a lot of mercury. High mercury raw fish should always be consumed moderately. Otherwise, it may lead to mercury poisoning.

High exposure to mercury can have harmful neurological effects. It can negatively affect the nervous system function, causing a wide range of symptoms such as depression, anxiety, numbness, lack of concentration, and memory loss.

Too much mercury can disrupt the motor and cognitive growth and development of young children and infants. If you’re pregnant, this can affect the newborn babies in the same way.


Any kind of raw fish, including swordfish, can be host to a wide range of parasites. If not properly dealt with, these parasites can lead to food-borne illnesses.

Eating inadequately processed swordfish can cause many symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, among others. This can lead to other complications for vulnerable people. If the fish is not fresh or properly processed, the only safe option is to cook it fully.

What are the Health Benefits of Swordfish?

Swordfish can have many health benefits. It is an excellent source of protein and B vitamins. It is also rich in selenium, a beneficial micronutrient that can help prevent heart diseases and some cancer types. It is also low in calories and saturated fats, which can help with weight loss.

What Can You Make With Raw Swordfish?

Swordfish can be served raw in many ways. It can be made into exquisite dishes such as:

  • swordfish steaks
  • swordfish belly ceviche
  • swordfish fillets
  • swordfish tartare

These can be served along with any number of ingredients. For instance, lemon, garlic and olive oil usually accompany the fillets. The belly part can be made into fillets, with lemon or lime juice, black or white pepper, onion, and cilantro on the side. Due to its mild flavor, it can be a nice addition to other dishes such as vinegared rice, sea bream, tuna salad, and sushi to name a few.

Is It Better To Eat Cooked Raw Fish?

Swordfish can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s usually safer to cook swordfish. When the swordfish is cooked properly, the risk of parasitic infections is eliminated. Both raw and cooked swordfish will contain more or less the same amount of mercury. Either way, they shouldn’t be consumed excessively.

Swordfish is often grilled or barbecued. It can be fully cooked, medium rare, or rare. You can serve swordfish in many ways:

  • grilled marinated swordfish steaks
  • swordfish a la rose (‘a la rose’ is used to describe fish cooked rare or medium rare).
  • baked swordfish (medium rare or slow-cooked)

Final Thoughts

Despite the risks that come with eating swordfish raw, it is mostly a safe choice for a seafood treat. It can be a good substitute to other fish with stronger flavor and high calories. As long as it’s fresh and handled with care, everything should be fine. The main thing to consider is to not eat too much, as the fish is relatively high in mercury.

FAQs On Raw Swordfish

Is it safe to consume swordfish raw or undercooked?

A fresh, properly frozen, and prepared swordfish is mostly safe, as long as you don’t eat too much and are not among at-risk populations that can suffer bad complications from mercury and parasites.

• Is Swordfish healthier than other types of fish?

If you’re watching for your weight, swordfish can be more convenient for you. It’s relatively low in calories and rich in nutrients. However, it is higher in mercury than most fish, so it should be eaten moderately.

Brett White
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