It wasn’t so long ago that monkfish was referred to as the poor man’s lobster, the fine texture and sweet, light flavour of the monkfish tail recalling the crustacean’s. Now, if the monkfish doesn’t command prices equal to lobster, it exceeds it, making monkfish a delicious indulgence for diners and home cooks.
Cooking / Eating Benefits
Monkfish isn’t known for being the prettiest of fish, with its mottled skin, huge flat head and gaping mouth filled with menacing teeth. However the flavour of monkfish is delicious sweet, slightly buttery and about the closest fish comes to mea . As a result, it’s not cheap. Monkfish is available year round and is usually sold with the head removed; the remaining body being called the ‘tail’. Sold fresh the tail meat is usually skinned and filleted but meat can also be harvested from the cheeks. The loose dark skin of this fish is easy to strip away, revealing a pink, glassy membrane that needs to be pulled away – if left on it will shrink around the meat during cooking, making it tough.
The firm flesh of Monkfish is perfect for stir-frying, barbecuing and pan-frying as well as for use in ceviche or sushi. However Monkfish is a particularly wet fish and can excrete a milky-looking fluid when cooked. This is fine if being cooked in liquid but not so great on the grill. Salting the flesh or soaking it in brine for an hour then patting it dry before use will help.
Monkfish soaks up flavours well and robust flavours such as chilli, soy, sesame, curry powder, parma ham, chorizo and smoked paprika, all complement monkfish. A popular way of cooking monkfish is to wrap it in salty Parma-ham which not only adds great flavour but helps to keep the fillet nice and round whilst cooking.