The monkfish is a frightful looking creature with a massive head and lots of sharp teeth, so it’s a good thing that most places only display the filleted tail piece. On the other hand, monkfish is delicious with a firm, almost lobster-like flesh and no fiddly small bones to deal with.
Whenever I see freshly caught monkfish, I’ll buy it. It isn’t frequently available in Colorado and is rather expensive but well worth it. I remember when it first appeared on the fishmonger’s slab back in the UK and was presented in it’s entirety (as they did back then), it was the stuff of nightmares.
People would shudder and give it a wide berth, so initially it was incredibly cheap. However, once the fishmongers got smart and realized that by removing the face-from-hell and presenting just the lovely firm tail meat instead, it sold like hotcakes, pushing the price through the roof. Sadly it’s now somewhat over-fished and as they’re a deep sea dweller, trawlers did a lot of sea-bed damage dredging for them.
If you’re lucky enough to find it, here’s a lovely simple curry recipe. All you’ll need is some plain boiled rice and perhaps a vegetable or fresh relish on the side. If you’re looking for inspiration, there are plenty of ideas here in my Indian and Asian Food section.
1 3/4lbs (800g) of monkfish fillet, cut into 2 inch (5cm) chunks
4 large tomatoes peeled and seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
2 fresh curry leaves
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric
7 fl oz (200ml) of hot water
1/2 a teaspoon of amchur (mango powder), optional
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
4 teaspoons of ground coriander
3 1/2 fl oz (100ml) of coconut milk
Sea salt to taste
Fresh chopped cilantro/coriander leaf to serve
Rinse the monkfish under cold running water and drain. Finely chop the peeled and de-seeded tomatoes and set aside.
In a heavy sauté pan with a lid, heat enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan over a medium heat, then add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds start to pop, add the fenugreek seeds followed by the curry leaves, ginger and sliced onion. Cook until the onions are golden, stirring occasionally.
Add the turmeric powder, sauté to combine then add the chopped tomatoes and hot water to the onion-spice mixture, followed by the chili powder, cumin and coriander.
Turn up the heat so that it starts to boil, then partly cover with the lid and reduce it to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the fish, stir to combine and simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring gently.
Finally, add the coconut milk and sea salt to taste and bring it back to a gentle boil. Stir until the fish is cooked, about 4 minutes, then take it off the heat.
Check to see if it needs more salt and sprinkle with chopped cilantro / coriander to serve.
Like most Indian dishes, this freezes well.