A big ugly swimming mouth, a stomach attached to a tail, or simply plain ugly, Lophius piscatorius may be many things, but pretty it is not. The monkfish is an extremely popular fish on the tables of Irish restaurants, and for good reason. The meat is delicate and firm in texture with an extremely pleasant aftertaste, particularly when simply cooked in a little butter and finished with no more than a squeeze of lemon juice.
This fish can grow big as well, up to two metres, and considering the head often accounts for two thirds of the animal’s weight the fish can easily be perceived as a monster of the deep. Interestingly the correct name for what we know as monkfish is in fact angler fish, and in Ireland the fish is sometimes known as frogfish. The tail of the monkfish is where most of the meat is obtained, but on larger fish a good amount of the meat can also be obtained from the cheeks. Another reason for the popularity of the monkfish is the absence of bone in the fillets of the fish, although it is important to bear in mind that there is a skin-like membrane underneath the skin of the fish which tends to toughen the flesh if not removed before cooking.
To cook monkfish simply season with salt and pepper then fry with a little butter until the fish turns golden. Allow the fish stand for a few minutes before serving to allow the heat distribute evenly throughout the flesh.
A simple mango and pepper salsa will make a refreshing accompaniment to monkfish. To make the salsa you will need:
1 red pepper, chopped fine
1 mango, peeled and chopped fine
50 gram flat leaf parsley, chopped medium
10 gram chilli, chopped fine
1 red onion, chopped fine
Mix all ingredients together and store in a refrigerator for up to a day.
I also served my monkfish with some spring onion wilted in hot butter, sliced chorizo sausage to give a little flavour, and some baked purple potatoes.
The purple or Peruvian potatoes give a great boost to the colour of the dish and also taste like an old fashioned floury spud.
Another simple way to cook monkfish is the wrap the fillets in streaky bacon and roast in a hot oven until cooked, carve and serve for a tasty and extremely simple seafood dish.