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Feb 22, 2012 04:12 AM

Dealing with Monkfish

I've been given a large piece of frozen monkfish. While I've only eaten monkfish in restaurants, it seems like a different texture than most other fish that I usually cook. Are there any special rules that apply to cooking monkfish? I've searched the home cooking boards and the word "braise" kept popping up. Is this the best way? Any tips and/or recipies would be welcome. Thanks!

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  1. It retains a firmer texture than most fish when cooked (people liken it to lobster meat routinely). The risk of dry-heat cooking is that it will seem tough. If carefully cooked, though, it can be simply baked/roasted. But I generally prefer a moist preparation, like a provencal braise with tomato sauce and olives. etc. There have been good threads on this, I think.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Bada Bing

      Yes, the thread I read had a lot of tomato based sauces and I usually love them but it doesn't seem like it would work with a lobster like fish. That many people couldn't be wrong though. If I were to do a moist prep, what should I look for when checking for doneness? As with all other seafood that I cook, I would almost rather under cook it than over cook it.

      1. re: Ikkeikea

        Doesn't need long cooking. That's why the term "braise" can be distracting, because we usually associate it with long cooking, breaking down collagen, etc.

        Try to have uniform shapes. The fish is done when it approaches opaque interior. The texture is a tick or two firmer than codfish loin, if I recall correctly.

        Edit: I think tomato works great with it, but I bet you could go with a cream sauce, instead. Could be poached in broth and wine. Limitless!

        1. re: Ikkeikea

          Actually, tomato sauces work well with monkfish. Simmer bite sized bits in a marinara sauce for no more than 5 minutes for a great pasta sauce. Portion sized cuts can be wrapped in Parma Ham, brushed with olive oil and roasted at 400 for about 15/20 minutes. Perfect with a rocket salad. A restaurant near me roasts portions in a honey glaze and then serves dressed with lime juice and a little fresh sliced chilli. Also it is good to skewer oiled 1 inch cubes and grill.

          There are sustainability issues over here in Europe, and it runs at over $20/lb, so it's rather a luxury in my household!

          1. re: Robin Joy

            On the thread I read before posting my own, someone brought up the sustainability issue. I don't know where it came from but it was a gift from my MIL. I live in Norway where everything is outrageously expensive so this is an unusual treat. I just want to do it justice. Thank you for your suggestions!

      2. I sometimes start it in a hot pan with olive oil. Brown on both sides and then pour in some white wine and stock and maybe some herbs and cover the pan. I don't find monkfish to be that sensitive and even if you leave it in the pan a couple minutes too long, it will probably be fine. Cook it the way you cook any other fillet but add some extra liquid be it tomato, wine, stock or even rice wine and soy sauce. Enjoy your fish and report back!

        You don't have monkfish liver too do you?


        3 Replies
        1. re: JeremyEG

          No liver, unfortunately but I would to try it one day. Something tells me that I am the only one in the family that wants to try it :-)

          1. re: JeremyEG

            i've had it like this, and it was good -- in an italian restaurant here in dc many years ago -- trattu. has yours been pre--peeled of its membrane?

            i'd saute briefly in olive oil and butter, then throw in some white wine, cook for a few minutes under a cover, see the liquid is reduced, then then toss in some capers (also maybe some quartered artichoke hearts to be decadent) and lemon juice, a little butter to round out the sauce, and parsley to serve. classic and siimple.

            it is really good served with the turned potatoes that are first boiled then pan roasted with some oil and salt. (although i am anxious to spread the word about these potatoes from pioneer woman -- "crash potatoes" so simple and so delicious, crusty and creamy


            fresh green beans with a little thyme is also nice alongside.

            1. re: alkapal

              I don't know if it still has the membrane :-/ It is a big slab wrapped in foil and already frozen so I haven't checked to see what the actual fish looks like. I love lemon and capers, so we might have a winner! Oh, and those crash hot potatoes are the first time Pioneer Woman crossed my radar.... they really are good.

          2. I find that if you want to fry, saute, or bake it you are best off cutting it into 1" cubes - or even a little smaller. More or less bite-sized. That way it cooks quickly without drying out. The flavor is not like lobster but the texture IS. I have eaten braised restaurant monkfish that WAS dry - probably cooked too long or too hot, it seemed to have forced out all its liquid.

            1. Hi, you lucky thing, I LOVE monkfish! Yes, it's a fish that definitely gets that "chewy" texture when cooked, so it does need a little braising or some liquid or added moisture whilst cooking. I first tried it in a soup, at a restaurant in Barcelona, which was sublime, and had to get some to try cooking it the minute I was back in the South of France (and cooked it Provençal style - not as good as the Spanish style). The Spanish name for the Barcelona soup was Sopa de Pescado a la Donostiarra. It had lots of other seafood in it, so it was a rich soup with concentrated seafood and tomato flavours and the monkfish was melt-in-your-mouth tender... and my guess is, it could've been braised for some time. It's definitely not the kind of fish that falls apart or flakes easily.

              1. I like to use monkfish in a 'Seafood Kow' recipe that has snow peas, shiitake mushrooms and a light sauce. It keeps its nice flavor and color.

                There is often a silvery membrane on the outside of the filet - you can slide your filet knife under it and remove it before cooking, or slice it off after it curls up as it cooks. That's the part that gets chewy.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jmcarthur8

                  Thank you for that. I will check before cooking and keep an eye out for anything wanting to curl.