Monkfish- Ugly Deliciousness!

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter-Ann Arbor, Michigan

Our Wednesday farmers market was buzzing with lots of fresh fall offerings: beautiful squash, greens, eggplant, tomatoes, apples, Concord grapes, garlic and all kinds of peppers with an explosion of color! The Wilczewski family was offering a selection of peppers that was quite impressive: Anaheim, jalapeños, crimson leaf, sweet banana, poblano, red Italian roasters, lunch box “sweeties”, as well as red and green bell peppers. They all looked so perfect and fresh that they had to make it into this week’s fish report recipe. Along with some perfect little cherry tomatoes they were offering, a roasted tomato and pepper sauce with fish would make a fine dinner.

farmer's peppersWe’ve been seeing some nice large monkfish lately and the firm sweetness of this fish should be great with a tangy pepper tomato sauce. I used a variety of the Wilczewski’s peppers for my sauce, including a whole jalapeño to liven it up, but to keep it simple for you, today’s recipe uses only red bell and jalapeño that will work just fine.

Here’s a little info about the lovely monkfish from a fish report written a few years ago:

There are lots of fish that we now sell that used to be considered trash fish and were thrown overboard by U.S. fishermen. Skate, dogfish and sea robin were just a few of the “underutilized species” that were prized in other parts of the world but never were seen on American menus. With the decline of many North Atlantic fish stocks (most of which are rebounding or recovered) fishermen began to keep the so-called trash and tried marketing them. One of the great success stories of this category is the monkfish.

monkfish

Not until they were marketed as “poor man’s lobster” these fish were a tough sell here. Butterflied, broiled, sprinkled with paprika then dipped in drawn butter may have helped in promoting the species, but I always thought that it was a great fish on its own. Monkfish is an amazing, interesting and ugly eating machine. It has slippery, scaleless skin, large protruding pectoral fins (that it uses as arms to walk along the bottom of the ocean) and a huge wide mouth with inverted hinged needle-like teeth that let prey slide easily in, never to escape.

The true name of this species is goosefish and it is in the anglerfish family. Like other anglerfish, these fish actually “fish” for their prey. The front spine of their dorsal fin is elongated and can be protruded out in front of the monkfish’s head like a fishing pole. The spine has a fleshy little “worm” on the end that waves around and attracts curious fish. When the fish gets close enough, all the monkfish has to do is open its giant mouth and suck it in.

They’ve been known to devour prey half their own size including sea birds!

The meat of the monkfish is firm and dense with a delicate, subtle sweetness to it. Because of its firm texture, it’s a great fish for soups, bouillabaisse, gumbos and stews. It can be a little tricky to simply bake, broil or fry because it can sometimes tighten up and become a bit tough. Cooking with vegetables, wrapping in bacon or pancetta, simmering in a sauce or braising as you would with a veal shank osso buco style, are good methods. Today’s recipe uses butterflied monkfish fillets that are pan seared and then popped in the oven for a few minutes. Delicious. Pan Seared Monkfish Over Roasted Tomato Pepper Sauce

 

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Monahan's Seafood

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