Monkfish: From Bycatch to Haute Cuisine

Monkfish: From Bycatch to Haute Cuisine

This lesson’s dish involves pan searing and oven roasting monkfish. The fish is served with a whole grain pilaf and other sides. The dish requires soaking the garbanzo beans—also known as chickpeas—overnight, so do that before beginning the rest of the recipe, and then dry them. The farro should also be pre-‑soaked, but only for an hour.

Monkfish with Whole Grain Pilaf and Lemon

Cooking Method
Cook the soaked and drained chickpeas with a pinch of salt. In a separate pot, cook the farro with a pinch of salt. Bring them to a boil to soften them up on the outside before adding them into the rest of the vegetable mix.

To start the lentils, heat grapeseed oil in a medium-‑sized saucepan. This step also involves sweating mirepoix. Cook until the onions in the mirepoix are translucent, and then add a small amount of garlic. Wait for that to aromatize, which usually takes around 10 seconds, and then add the canned tomatoes. Use a spoon to break the tomatoes apart.

Add a touch of chili flake. Bring to a simmer, and then add the lentils and stir to cover in tomato sauce. Add a bit of water so that everything is covered in a quarter-inch of liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then bring it down to simmer.

Meanwhile, prepare the fish. Monkfish sometimes carry a parasite called anisakiasis. The only way to kill anisakiasis is to cook the monkfish to 135 degrees. As you prepare it, check the fish to see if it has any anisakiasis visible. Also check the quality of the fish: It should have almost no scent.

Use a fillet knife to divide the fish into two fillets. This is a good time to check the spine for anisakiasis. Next, remove the skin from each fillet, and then remove the bloodlines. Finally, portion the fillets to finish breaking the monkfish down.

Check on the farro. It should have expanded in size. Check its readiness by placing a small amount on the back of your hand and pressing down. Check the readiness of the chickpeas by pressing on one with a spoon; if it is still raw on the inside, it needs a few more minutes. Once it is ready, drain the excess water from the farro. Keep the lid on to keep the moisture inside so they don’t dry out.

Check the lentils next. Use a spoon to break one apart. If the inside is still raw but the outside is breaking apart, they likely need another few minutes. Add some more water so they can absorb it. Once the water cooks down, they should be ready to go. Make sure the tomatoes have broken apart. Add sage, rosemary, and thyme.

Check on the chickpeas. They should be almost completely cooked. Drain the water out. Add them to the mixture with the lentils. Also add the farro, and then let them all cook together to the end. Put a lid on top, using a low temperature to finish this mixture.

The monkfish will be seasoned with a unique spice called ras el hanout as well as salt and white pepper. Add the ras el hanout to the flour and mix it lightly. Dipping the fish in flour before frying will help prevent it from sticking to the pan.

Season the monkfish with white pepper and salt. Flour the monkfish, making sure the pieces are evenly coated. Wash your hands, and then prepare to sear the monkfish. Heat a 10-inch pan and add grapeseed oil.

Check the pilaf at this time. If the grains are getting dry, you can add a bit of chicken stock to them for added moisture and flavor.

Once the pan is hot and shimmering, add the fish. Wait 10 seconds. Shake the pan; nothing should stick. The goal is to achieve a golden brown on one side of the fish. You can clean your station while waiting for this to occur.

Use a fish spatula to check the underside of the monkfish. When the pieces are golden brown, place them in the oven at 350 degrees. Cook them until they reach an internal temperature of 135 degrees.

Prepare lemon wedges. Cut the ends off and then quarter the lemon. Remove the center of the lemon as well as the seeds.

Check on the monkfish. White discharge coming from the edge indicates albumin coming out of the fish. The protein itself is being pushed out. This means that the outside of the monkfish is done cooking. Test the firmness of the monkfish, and remember that it should have reached a temperature of 135 degrees. Add leftover garlic to the pan. This will aromatize in the oil.

Check on the whole grain salad. Add herbs and fold those through. If desired, add more salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and then taste to see if more seasoning is needed.

Plate the lentils, chickpeas, and farro first, followed by the monkfish. Use some of the leftover oil and juice from the pan by placing it on top of the dish. Finish with lemon zest and a wedge of lemon.

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