HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >



  • m

What's the deal with cooking monkfish? Supposed to be the ugliest thing in the sea but delicious..."poor man's lobster". Does anyone have any good recepies for monkfish? I've never cooked it and could use some advice.



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. t

    According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch list (http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch...) monkfish is a threatened species:
    Unfortunately, high demand has encouraged heavy fishing pressure, and populations have become over-fished off the U.S. Atlantic coast. Due to strengthened fishery management, monkfish are beginning to show signs of recovery but are still at low numbers.
    An additional concern for monkfish is the way they are caught. Monkfish are usually caught using bottom trawls, a method that can damage seafloor habitat and often results in high bycatch of unmarketable, illegal or undersized species. For these reasons, we recommend you avoid monkfish.

    Recommended Recipe Alternatives:
    Catfish (farmed), Rainbow trout (farmed), Tilapia (farmed
    The Seafood Watch site is a great site for learning more about what you're eating, and it has pocket guides to take along when you are shopping so you can make sure you aren't contributing to the problem of over-fishing pressured fish stock.


    1 Reply
    1. re: TwinklyTerrapin


      Thank you for letting me know that monkfish are endangered and that fishing for them destroys the sea floor. Even more useful will be the site that you passed on. I will certainly check it to learn more so that enjoyment of good food is not at the expense of endangered species.



    2. While I would never recommend purchasing an over-fished, threatened species, the alternatives suggested just aren't even close to the texture of monkfish. Buy a lobster instead.

      1. Monkfish is far from a threatened species. They are wide ranging fish. From italy to the pacific. They are usually bycatch of dragnet and gill net fishing. Most lobstermen catch them in their traps now and then. According to the Northeast Fisheries Science center it is not a currently over fished species. Only in the south is it over fished. They are caught through trawling, just like shrimp.

        You can most likely buy them from your local fish processing plant. You can buy them online already filleted. They are a nearly impossible fish to ruin. They were considered over fished in the late 1980's. Since 1991 the population has rebounded, with the acception of the heavily fished stock in the south.

        My favorite recipe is as follows:

        monkfish 3 large fillets cut into chunks, blood line removed, grey membrain removed. Sharp knife, like shaving.thick bottom pan, olive oil to coat bottom, salt to season fish. Flour monkfish. put fish into pan after being floured. Oil will simmer around the edges.Tight artichoke and green stem. Pluck outter leaves till soft white. Should crackle. Serated knive, cut off tip.Peel down side like a potatoe and remove steps. Cut in half remove the choke.Cut artichoke into quarters. Set aside in water with the juice of 1 lemon. To prevent oxidization of the artichoke.Fish shouldn't be touched until it's got a nice golden crust. Remove fish when half cooked and carmalization in bottom of pan. Add more oil, about 3 tbs, chopped onion, little bit of salt, pepperochino, 3 table spoons of hot water to deglaze, then add tomatoe paste, reintroduce fish, add capers. Add 1/4th of a bottle of white wine, NOT COOKING WINE. Let alcohol burn off. Add artichokes.Add enough water enough to cover monkfish, cover simmer 20 minutes. check it, and let it sit for 15 more minutes. The artichokes should have an olive green color when done. Plate family style on a platter.

        edit-I like sutter home, it's wonderfully sweet white wine.

        Fennel and capers

        olive oil in pan, to cover bottom, 2 medium onions, cut onions and fennel large, add onions to pan. 2 pinches of salt. Remove fennel stocks. Remove brown and tough spots.Remove bottom stem. Cut in half. Remove core in the bottom of the bulb. Cut in half again, then quarters. About 2 bulbs. Add to onions. 2 pinches of salt, capers, 1/2 cup. Pepperocino. Lower the flame, cover it and let it carmalize. mix occationally and let simmer. Total of 15 minutes. Plate family style on a platter.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Grendal

          Monkfish is delicious, but I don't get the lobster comparison. It is nothing like lobster either taste-wise or texturally. I think it is just a marketing gimmick. It is available in the fish section of the Chinese supermarkets on Gerrard. I like this recipe:
          Servings: 6
          Preparation time: One hour
          Monkfish: 3 lbs
          Onions: 2
          Olive Oil: 3 tablespoons
          Garlic: 1 clove
          White Wine: 1 1/2 cup
          Diced Tomatoes: 1 can (28 oz)
          Red Pepper Powder: dash
          1/4 teaspoon salt
          1/4 teaspoon pepper
          Ingredients for the Rouille (or you may decide to buy it in a store!)

          Yolks: 2 (Watch the quality of eggs)
          White Bread: 1 slice of sandwich white bread crust removed
          Garlic: 2 cloves
          Milk: 1/4 cup
          Saffron: a large pinch, i.e. a rounded 1/8 tsp
          Red Pepper Powder: dash
          Olive Oil: 1 cup
          1/4 teaspoon salt

          Peel and chop onions.
          Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
          Stir in onions and cook for 8 minutes.
          Cut monkfish into serving pieces.
          Stir in monkfish pieces and crushed garlic.
          Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.
          Stir in white wine, diced tomatoes, red pepper powder, salt and pepper.
          Cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes stirring occasionally.

          For the Rouille:
          Peel and mince the garlic.
          Moisten the white bread in milk and squeeze out the liquid.
          Put in a blender the white bread slice, garlic, red pepper, saffron, salt & pepper add yolks and puree in the blender.
          Beat into a mayonnaise with an electrical beater while slowly adding the olive oil.
          When the rouille is ready, keep it chilled in the fridge until it is served (avoid keeping it more than one day).

          1. re: Grendal

            No offense, Grendal, but what are your qualifications to speak so authoritatively about monkfish populations? If you're going tell people to ignore the marine biologists at Monterrey Bay you have to do more than say "trust Grendal, the monkfish are doing just fine."

            1. re: eight_inch_pestle

              Actually the monkfish population is recovering. It is still on the "Avoid" lists because of the method used to catch them -

              Excerpt from Seafood Watch at Monteray Bay Aquarium ----

              "Monkfish are usually caught using bottom trawls, a method that can damage seafloor habitat and often results in high bycatch. Monkfish are also caught using gillnets, and this can result in the accidental catch and death of sea turtles and marine mammals."

              Reference -

              1. re: hannaone

                Yeah, read that before I replied. To be clear, you did not excerpt the line from that page says monkfish are "thought" to be recovering. And the larger question is how "avoid" doesn't mean "avoid."

                1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                  That's why I listed alternatives in the recipe I posted below ;-)

                  1. re: hannaone

                    Fair enough. Sorry if I sounded snippy---home sick and bouncing off the walls.

              2. re: eight_inch_pestle

                no offense taken, sorry for the delay in replying been busy. From the marine biologist here in rhode island, at ccri, they help in the studying, and I was told straight out the monterrey bay people need to update and reword things, it's misleading.

                I usually catch my own monkfish, and I never have a problem finding them, find a place the bottom trawlers ain't been hitting, and your all set. I stick close to wrecks cause the bottom trawlers get the nets snagged. I find them mostly with skates in their belly. About 75 feet of water for the wrecks. Jigging always works pretty good too, expecially off chatham, mass. I've also had great success March or April, locate a dragger working flounder in about 60 feet of water.Setup your drift in his wake to follow his path. Bait, whole flounder or skate wing with skin on, fished on a fishfinder rig. I usually go buy skate from the local flounder charters, tell them I need 6 or 7 of them and I'm all set for the day. Worse comes to worse you at least have skate wings for dinner.

                The only reason I don't like subsituting it, is cause monkfish is a nice firm fish, and is nearly impossible to wreck , doesn't flake very easily like cod or hake will or so my nana taught me.

            2. Here's a famous one. If you're gonna do it, why not go big right?


              1. It is the most hideous creature I've ever prepared. I can debone a chicken, break down a lamb and fillet a fish without a flinch. BUT, if you are at all squeamish, do not take on a monkfish. Try to get some fresh cleaned fillets from a decent fishmonger.

                I've only used it in bouillabase, a great substitute for lobster.


                  1. Get your fishmonger to prep you some fillets. Make a marinade with olive oil, parsley, oregano (or marjoram), salt & pepper. Marinate for 20 minutes. Wrap the fillets in Palma or Serrano ham (or similar). Roast at 200 for 12-15 minutes.

                    Personally I rate monkfish very highly - whilst I don't rate lobster at all.

                    1. Braised Monk Fish, Agu Jjim

                      A popular spicy fish dish from Korea.
                      Alternate Spellings: Agujjim, Agu Chim, Agwii Jjim, Agwijjim, agwuijjim

                      Substitutes for Monkfish: Catfish (farmed), Rainbow Trout (farmed), and Tilapia (farmed) from the U.S.

                      Servings: 6


                      18 oz 아귀/아구 (monkfish fillet)
                      3 tablespoons Cooking oil
                      1/2 cup chicken broth or water
                      1/2 cup 더덕 Deodeok root (bonnet bellflower root/codoropsis root).
                      1 teaspoon salt
                      1 pound soy bean sprouts
                      2 green or spring onions
                      2 green Korean chili peppers
                      2 red Korean chili peppers
                      4 ounces 고사리 (gossari - fern shoots)
                      1 tablespoon sesame oil

                      2 tablespoons Cornstarch
                      4 tablespoons water to mix with cornstarch

                      Seasoning Mix
                      3 tablespoons medium ground red chili pepper
                      1 tablespoon soy sauce
                      3 tablespoons chicken broth
                      1 teaspoon Sugar
                      2 tablespoons minced garlic
                      3 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
                      1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
                      1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed
                      1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
                      1 tablespoon sesame oil
                      1 1/2 tablespoon rice wine



                      Deodeok (Bonnet Bellflower Root)
                      Soak in cold water for two hours then drain.
                      Cover with water, add 1 teaspoon salt, then swirl for two to three minutes.
                      Rinse in cold water and drain.

                      Three types of gossari are available in Korean markets, fresh, dried or wet packed. If using dried gossari, soak for two to three hours until soft, then rinse in cold running water and drain.
                      Fresh, bring a pot of water to a full boil, add gossari, and boil for one to three minutes (until fern sprout soften enough to bend without breaking), drain and rinse quickly in cold water.
                      Wet packed, simply rinse in cold running water and drain.
                      Cut gossari into 1 1/2 inch lengths.

                      Soy Bean Sprouts
                      Trim root and seed ends off, leaving only the stem portion.
                      Rinse in cold water, then drain.
                      Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil, add bean sprouts, and return to a boil.
                      Remove from heat, rinse in cold water, and drain.

                      Spring Onion
                      Trim root and any discolored leaves.
                      Cut on a diagonal in 1/2 inch lengths, then rinse in cold water and drain.

                      Korean Chili Peppers
                      Remove stem and rinse well in cold water.
                      Cut in half from top to bottom and remove seeds.
                      Sliver each pepper half.

                      Seasoning Mix
                      Combine all ingredients and mix well

                      Cube the fillets in bite size pieces.
                      Place the cubed monkfish into a large bowl, add the seasoning mix, toss well and let stand for five minutes.

                      Place cooking oil into a large, deep, heavy skillet and heat over high heat.
                      Add seasoned monkfish and stir fry until fish is lightly seared.
                      Add chicken broth or water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer about 5 minutes.
                      Remove fish from skillet.
                      Add the deodeok to the skillet and cook until semi-tender, about 5 minutes.
                      Add remaining vegetables and return the fish to the skillet, increase heat to medium high, and return to a boil.
                      Mix thickener and add to skillet, stirring constantly until thickened.
                      Add sesame oil, stir twice, and remove from heat.

                      Serve hot with steamed white rice and ban chan.

                      Shopping List for 아귀찜/아구찜 (Spicy Braised Monkfish - Agujjim)
                      18 ounces 아귀/아구 (monkfish fillet)
                      1/2 cup 더덕 (Deodeok root - bonnet bellflower root/codoropsis root)
                      1 pound 콩나물 (kongnamul - soy bean sprouts)
                      4 ounces 고사리 (gossari - fern shoots)
                      2 빨강 고추 (red chili pepper - gochu)
                      2 녹색 고추 (green chili pepper - gochu)
                      참기름 (chamgireum - sesame oil)
                      고춧가루 (gochutgaru - red chili pepper powder)
                      간장 (ganjang - soy sauce)
                      생강 (saenggang - ginger)
                      참깨 (chamkkae - sesame seeds)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hannaone

                        hannaone, you are a wonder. I have learned so much from your posts, keep doing what you do.

                        I will avoid monkfish in favor of another more appropriate, less avoidable fish, however. I ate a lot of monkfish back in the 80's, anyway, and while tasty, it's silly to think of it as a sub for lobster, then and now.

                      2. It is extremely expensive. I cooked it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, from a recipe from Mark Peel's Family Dinners (very good book). It was a Monkfish Osso Buco. The risotto part was outstanding. I was not crazy about the Monkfish, however, which cost me a fortune at Whole Foods.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Tom P

                          I am surprised because where I live (NYC) it is certainly not among the more expensive offerings. I've never bought fish at WF, however.

                          1. re: erica

                            Monkfish is available at most farmers markets in and around NYC, for much less than Whole Paycheck,uummm Whole Foods.

                            1. re: yumyum2

                              That's not so. The Union Square vendors charge more for fish than the Whole Foods a couple hundred feet away. Monkfish is always at least $2/lb more (the last time I compared, it was $18/lb vs. $15/lb). I can't say if this is true of all the greenmarkets, but it is most assuredly true of this one.

                              1. re: small h

                                I paid $10/lb yesterday at the greenmarket in Jackson Heights. Still looking for an easy recipe for tonight. C'mon out to Queens, y'all!

                                1. re: Helen F

                                  Damn! You make a strong case. Thanks for the tip.

                                  1. re: Helen F

                                    I made it by layering it in a cassarole dish (sp), potatoes, fennel, fish, potatoes, fennel, fish, tomatoes, breadcrumbs with parsley and oregano and some fresh basil drizzled with a little olive oil....it was so good my aunt janet (who hates all fish) was on her 3rd plate before everyone finished their first, and despite a bad back and being in her 60's, she ran for them plates!

                          2. It's good in paella. It's a distinctive fish with a meaty texture and a strong but unassertive flavor. Personally, I do think it tastes somewhat like lobster, and the texture isn't that far off either.