Known as the “poor man’s lobster,” monkfish is a seafood I’ve enjoyed quite a few times in restaurants. But I had never cooked it before.
Until last week.
Part of the problem was that it’s not an easy fish to find at local seafood markets. But thanks to DailyFreshFish, I was able to finally give it a go.
The new online seafood source was launched recently by Hayward’s Pucci Foods, which was established in 1918 by Joe Pucci, an Italian immigrant. Pucci Foods has long supplied restaurants and retail stores. Now, it’s making that same seafood available directly to consumers.
The company, which sources seafood from all over the world, has a sustainable seafood certification from the Marine Stewardship Council. It also follows the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide and the NOAA Fish Watch Program.
When the company reached out to offer me a chance to try their seafood program gratis, I chose the monkfish tail fillets (two 10-ounce portions are $26.99). True to form, it is listed as a “good alternative” by Seafood Watch. However, there is often unintended bycatch snagged when it is caught.
The fish arrived on my porch the day I requested. It was surrounded by ice packs to keep the fillets cold.
For my inaugural monkfish cook-off, I chose a simple recipe from the New York Times. It’s so easy that the only real work comes in removing any gray membrane from the fish. It’s thin and filmy, so just use a good, sharp knife to peel it off.
Cut the monkfish into medallions and dredge in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and dry mustard. The recipe says to dredge only one side, but I did both sides to give them each a golden exterior. The dry mustard is hardly noticeable, so if you want to add more, you can. Just don’t overdue it, though, as you still want the natural sweetness of the fish to come through.
Sauteing the medallions takes less than five minutes. Since I floured both sides, I flipped the medallions after about two minutes, and allowed them to cook on the other side for another minute or so. But if you only dredge one side, follow the recipe and just cook the medallions on one side only.
A simple sauce of melted butter, shallots, capers, lemon juice and tarragon is spooned over the fish, adding briny brightness. The monkfish is dense yet so tender. The buttery sauce only serves to highlight the fish’s unctuous quality. No wonder it’s so often compared to lobster.
If you want to try cooking monkfish or some other seafood, DailyFreshFish is offering $10 off and free shipping on your first order of $30 or more.
Monkfish with Caper Butter
12 monkfish medallions, 1/2-inch thick (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced tarragon leaves
Lemon wedges, for serving
Remove any gray membrane from the fish. Mix flour and mustard together and season with salt and pepper. Dip the fish slices in seasoned flour on one side only and arrange on a plate, floured side up. (Or dredge both sides in the flour, if you like.)
Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the shallots and cook on medium until both the butter and shallots have browned and acquired a nutty aroma. Do not allow them to blacken. Remove from heat, stir in capers, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Warm 6 dinner plates or a platter. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron. When very hot, add the fish medallions, floured side down, and sauté until they turn golden, no more than a minute or so. (If you dredged both sides, flip the medallions over to allow them to cook for another minute or two on the other side.) Transfer them, cooked side up, to the plates or platter.
Briefly warm the caper sauce. Add the lemon juice and tarragon and spoon a little of the sauce over each medallion. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.
Adapted from a New York Times recipe by Florence Fabricant