Swordfish With Chile Pesto Recipe From Manny Cisneros

Shows us how to make an incredible red chile pesto

"My mom is a hell of a cook," says Manny Cisneros, chef de cuisine at Urbano Pizza Bar in downtown Los Angeles. In fact, Cisneros comes from a long line of cooks. His grandfather owned three restaurants in Mazatlán, Mexico, and when the family relocated to Los Angeles, he opened El Parian, which is still open today, 44 years later.

The recipe Cisneros shared with Sous Chef Series, swordfish topped with a red chile pesto, reminds him of his Mexican roots. The pesto, made with dried guajillo and ancho chiles, citrus juice, garlic and pumpkin seeds, is bold and spicy, the perfect counterpoint to the mild fish. "This is exactly what I would feed my family or company," he says.

Recipe adapted from Manny Cisneros, Urbano, Los Angeles

Swordfish With Chile Pesto
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Swordfish with Chile Pesto
Prep Time
Cook Time
servings (8 tacos)
Total time: 20 minutes
  • Chile Pesto
  • Dried guajillo chiles, 5 (stems removed and seeds discarded)
  • Dried ancho chiles, 3 (stems removed and seeds discarded)
  • Water, 1½ cups (boiling)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas), ½ cup
  • Limes, 3 (2 juiced and 1 sliced into wedges for serving)
  • Cilantro leaves, ¼ cup
  • Red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic cloves, 3 (roughly chopped)
  • Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Finely ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon
  • Swordfish
  • Swordfish, two 8-ounce steaks
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Corn tortillas, 8 (warmed for serving)
  • Avocado, 1 (halved, pitted and thinly sliced)
  1. Make the pesto: In a medium bowl, add the Guajillo chiles Ancho chiles Boiling water Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes. Use the tongs to transfer the chiles to a paper towel-lined large plate. Reserve ½ cup of the chile water and discard the rest.
  2. In a small skillet set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil Pumpkin seeds Cook, using the wooden spoon to stir frequently, until the pumpkin seeds are golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pumpkin seeds to a blender or a food processor and add the reserved, softened guajillo and ancho chiles, ¼ cup of the chile water and the Extra-virgin olive oil Lime juice Cilantro leaves Red pepper flakes Roughly chopped garlic Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper Process until the pesto is smooth, adding more of the remaining ¼ cup of chile water if needed to thin and smooth the mixture. Use the rubber spatula to scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Make the swordfish: Season both sides of the swordfish steaks with Extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper Place a grill pan over medium heat and add the swordfish. Cook until marked from the pan, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the swordfish steaks over, cooking the other side until the fish is cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and rest the swordfish for 5 minutes before slicing crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces. Arrange the swordfish on the serving platter and serve with the chile pesto and the Warmed corn tortillas Avocado slices Lime wedges
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