Anthony Bourdain smiling
The Disturbing Reason Anthony Bourdain Said To Pass On Eating Swordfish
One of the most common preparations of swordfish is raw in sushi and sashimi, which is bad news, considering Anthony Bourdain's advice: Watch out for swordfish worms.
In "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly," Bourdain wrote, "[S]wordfish? I like it fine. But my seafood purveyor, when he goes out to dinner, won’t eat it."
He added, "He’s seen too many of those three-foot-long parasitic worms that riddle the fish’s flesh. You see a few [...] and you won’t be tucking into swordfish anytime soon."
Swordfish worms are a nematode called ascarids, which are related to a parasite that causes trichinosis. Farmed fish rarely contract parasites, but swordfish are seldom farmed.
Ascarids infest the swordfish’s flesh shortly after it dies, and once they do, it’s impossible to get rid of them, which is why they may end up in raw swordfish that you order.
The worms can be killed if the fish is cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, which would dry it out, or by freezing the meat to -4 degrees for a week, which can ruin it.
Beyond the worms, an FDA study of 68 fish also revealed that swordfish has the second-highest mercury levels. Therefore, children and pregnant people should avoid it altogether.