There was a time, not that long ago, when you couldn’t give Monkfish away. Sometimes called, “Poor man’s lobster”, now it fetches a premium price and is enjoyed for its sweet taste and pleasing firm, meaty texture, similar to lobster and scallops.
Monkfish is all head and beautifully designed with a huge mouth perfect for catching prey. They live on the ocean bottom, in both the Pacific and Atlantic and some believe got their name from their remote and solitary existence in the ocean’s depths. I think that’s a bit of a stretch. A more plausable explanation for the name, monkfish, is that monks used to go to the docks asking for fish. Monkfish, because of its ugliness was not marketable, and fisherman would give them this by-product. Although they are also known by several other odd names: Goose-fish; Sea-devil; All-mouth; and Fishing-frog. Their Latin name is Lophius Americanus and the European variety is L. Piscatorius, caught right off our shores in Galway Bay. They are not a pretty fish and their most distinctive feature is their large mouth.
They also have an interesting, irregular growth of flesh in the front of their head, just above their mouth. The esca, also referred to as the illicium, is movable in all directions and used as a lure to attract other small fish into their massive jaws. The “antenna” dip down resembling a shrimp and the prey is snatched. Nature! Love it!
The tail is the portion of monkfish that is eaten, but the head has lots of “meat”, too and makes an incredible fish stock for seafood chowder. Once boiled, pick off the “meat” and make a luscious seafood salad.
Now, on to MONKFISH MARSALA! This recipe is from The Daily Catch in Boston, across from what used to be the famous Jimmy’s Harborside.
|Served over linguini with garlic bread;
topped with freshly chopped parsley and lots of
that gorgeous Marsala sauce.
1 lb. Monkfish, cut into 1/2 inch medallions, salted & peppered (We left ours in slightly larger strips.)
1/2 cup flour for dredging
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 1/2 cup Marsala wine*
1/2 cup fish, clam, or mussel broth**
8 white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 lemon for squeezing
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Parsley chopped
*I couldn’t find Marsala wine so used sherry instead. Not a bad substitute, but it’s best to use Marsala.
|This was excellent sherry, but really not the same as Marsala.
**The recipe doesn’t call for the addition of fish stock, but my husband, Jerry, used to eat at the Daily Catch weekly and became quite friendly with the chef. He said add 1/2 cup fish stock to deepen the flavor. I had made mussels the day before so used that.
|Dredge the medallions in liberally
seasoned flour. Shake off the excess.
Place a large skillet with oil over medium high heat. I added a tbsp. Of butter to the pan, as well. It helps brown the fish and adds to the flavor. Sear the monkfish in hot pan for about 2 minutes per side or until nicely browned and slightly carmelized. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.
Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple minutes until the butter/oil is absorbed and mushrooms start to look translucent.
|I was a little late on this photo as flames are nearly gone.
Be careful when igniting alcohol as it really
does flare up and could take off your eyebrows!
Remove pan from heat and add Marsala wine. Return to heat and ignite wine. Flambe until alcohol burns off. Flames will die down. Add fish stock, if using, and squeeze lemon juice into pan. Makes sure you catch the seeds. Continue cooking on medium high until sauce is reduced; about 10-15 minutes.
Return fish to pan. Add 1/2 Parsley, a little more butter and let bubble away on low heat for another 10 minutes. Serve over linguini topped with the last of the parsley. Garlic bread works well to soak up that sumptuous sauce!
I LOVE ALL THE FRESH FISH WE EAT WHEN
LIVING IN IRELAND. ITS A VERY SPECIAL TREAT!
WE ARE SO FORTUNATE AND I ALSO LOVE IT WHEN
MY HUSBAND COOKS WITH ME!!
|Connie Thornton from Ali’s Fish Market in Barna knows her fish!
ALL FOR TODAY, BUT TUNE IN AGAIN SOON, AS MORE GOODIES AHEAD.