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Nov 17, 2007 10:10 AM

Monkfish Liver

I've just got a pound of the stuff (Fish Tales, Brooklyn) and I don't feel like doing an Ankimo steam or poach thing with ponzu sauce. I'm more in the mood to saute it. I've done some searching, both Google & Chowhound, and I've found some older discussions that are helpful although there is a conflict as to whether they should be steamed before saute-ing or should just be sliced & sauted foie gras-style.
I expect that I will improvise and it will be good but I'm wondering if there's any new thoughts and ideas on what I can do (simple, ideally) to make this delicious.

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  1. As much as I hate answering my own post (makes you look like loser talking to yourself) I thought I'd report on my results, for posterity. Delicious. I went stupid and bought a whole pound of the stuff just for myself (I was hungry when I shopped and the price was around $8/lb which seemed a bargain). Easily twice as much I should have had. I sliced it at a flat angle to around 1/2" slabs and cooked them in a liberal amount of 50/50 grape seed oil/butter on a pretty high flame, around 3-4 minutes per side. I browned them pretty dark but they were still med-rare inside. Salt & lemon on the plate and that's all.
    My kitchen skills are not very high so the biggest flaw in this preparation was that the heat was a bit too high for the butter, even with the oil, and it got darker than I wanted. But this by no means not ruined it.
    I was skeptical that this delicate stuff could survive freezing well so........yes, I ate a whole damned pound of it and I am not exactly ready to go out dancing.
    If I were to do it again, I'd go ahead and make a sauce--ponzu or something similar to help cut the richness of the butter and liver. But this will be a once in a long while thing.

    18 Replies
    1. re: JonL

      Admiration. I would not know a monkfish liver if it bit me on theankle

      1. re: JonL

        Holy cow, wow, yes, a pound of ankimo sounds like an incredible feat! I find that it freezes raw OK, you should just wrap it up tightly. (In fact, it is a little easier to remove the membrane, if you're doing it japanese steamed style) I tend to do this so I can do it in small batches (partly because of the overfishing of monkfish, and partly plagued by thoughts that the liver is concentrating things that the monkfish found toxic) It's one of our favorite guilty treats, and a pound of it sounds sinfully indulgent!

        Some citrus or acid is important to cut the richness. The grated daikon that's normally served with it in the Japanese preparation also complements the richness well...

        1. re: JonL

          Gotta ask that dumb question. What's it taste like?"

          1. re: JonL

            I know what you mean about answering yourself, but I, for one, am glad you did. This was fascinating and I look forward to trying them sometime myself. Where did you find them? Fish market, Asian market?

            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

              I've got a really primo fish store very close-by. This was the first time I've seen it there in quite a while--I asked and they said that the restaurant trade usually gets to it before they can.
              My research into this yesterday did inform me of the over-fished aspects of monkfish--ironically, attributed to the increased popularity of the liver. And it informed me of the toxicity aspect--something I bear in mind with liver of any species but when you've got a hankerin'......
              That thing biting your ankle, Dutchdot, is probably a chigger and not a monkfish liver :>)
              Truly, eating a pound of the stuff was extraordinarily stupid. Not knowing of the viability of freezing it and preferring to make myself ill to having to ditch the remainder (isn't that dumb?) it seemed the only option.

              Taste? It is an odd combination of extremely subtle flavor and rich custardy/tofu-y texture that firms up the more you cook it. It's got a little seafoody hint but not much. An obscure comparison----prepared as I did it, it reminded me quite a bit of another occasional enjoyment--flounder roe whose cornucopia-shaped sacs can be poached and/or pan fried and also have only a subtle flavor and a unique semi-firm, semi-mush texture and take on the flavor of the cooking medium (browned butter, usually).

              The subtlety (I do not mean this in any sort of elitist way--I am far from a connoisseur of any food or cooking subject--) is one of those things where you can't really put your finger on why it was so good at the time you ate it. Didn't taste like....much. But it sure felt opulent. I often fall prey to hype and end up having raised expectations dashed. In my opinion this is the sort of thing that could do that to you if you went in expecting some sort of revelation. Lobster is a revelation. This

              And as I said, I served it with lemon and I used it quite liberally. Salt too. Ponzu, with its soy and citrus really is well mated to this and my choice not to go this way was not well considered.

              1. re: JonL

                Your description sure makes me want to try it.


                1. re: dhedges53

                  I often see monkfish liver at the fish stand at my local farmer's market. Maybe I'll get it next time. Sounds yummy.

            2. re: JonL

              Thanks for posting this! I just got a pound at a brooklyn farmer's market ($9.99), and will try grilling it with a ponzu sauce tonight (maybe not the whole pound).

              1. re: guamian671

                Which vendor did you buy it from?

                1. re: small h

                  Timely response here :>)----
                  Blue Moon at GAP had this last Sat.
                  Fish Tales on Court St. too (poor Alex turns green when forced to even look at it--one of those things he cannot explain and would rather just not think about).
                  Although I've been tempted, I just can't get past some of the parasite warnings---yes I know that it goes with the territory with many fish & seafood items but for some reason some of the accounts I've read re: ankimo & worms have stayed with me a bit too strongly.

                  1. re: JonL

                    I've never seen it at Blue Moon, but I'll keep an eye out. Thanks very much!

                    1. re: small h

                      Joseph Fisheries at the Park Slope Farmers Market has fresh monk fish liver. Great local fish from Montauk.

                      1. re: yumyum2

                        Thanks. I was hoping to find it in Manhattan, but I may have to make the trek out there.

                        1. re: small h

                          I'll continue this thread's grand tradition of answering oneself. I picked up a half pound of monkfish liver from PE & DD Seafood at Union Square yesterday, which turned out to be three pieces. I decided to prepare it two different ways (I figured at least one would be edible). So I pan-fried one piece in butter & safflower oil over lowish heat, which meant it cooked through without getting too brown on the outside. And I cooked the other two pieces "au torchon," which in this case means rolled in saran wrap and aluminum foil and steamed for 40 minutes. I plated it with grated daikon, rice & toasted nori, and I made a ponzu-esque sauce from lemon & lime juice, soy sauce and rice vinegar. It's a little dull to look at - the plate needs a maraschino cherry or something - but I was happy with it.

                            1. re: babette feasts

                              Thanks! I had a good time making it, and I liked the result quite a bit.

                              1. re: small h

                                Great job. I never have the discipline to organize myself to do things "two ways" or more. I love the idea of it. I've not returned to monkfish liver since the original posting. Next time it presents itself to me at the market I'll give it some thought.

                                1. re: JonL

                                  This was my first stab at the "two ways" thing, but as it was Saturday night, and I was sans plans, I made this little experiment my evening's entertainment. I'm sure it would have been entertaining to watch as well, since there was a lot of spinning around, and dropping stuff, and swearing. I look forward to reading about your monkfish liver adventures, when they happen.

            3. Cook the monk fish liver just like foie gras but with a light fresh garnish. Foie gras garnish are usually on the sweet and tangy side.