I honestly don't recall ever eating monkfish when I was younger. I don't remember anyone eating monkfish. It entered my consciousness about the same time as rocket, which I now eat almost every day, and as sundried tomatoes. Probably I was a bit slow to catch on because I was a student living in the culinary backwater of Cambridge and living on stir-fries and nights out in the local pub; I was hardly at the front of cutting edge food trends. That said, I am convinced that I ate monkfish in France, reasonably often, before I tasted it here. My favourite monkfish recipe comes from Happy Days, Jamie's third book, that my brother bought for me in 2001; at that point I already owned the first two books, The Naked Chef in paperback and its sequel in hardback. I found Happy Days immediately appealing and accessible, more so than the first two books, although time has nuanced that impression and I have come to love the Naked Chef in particular. Anyway from Happy Days I tried the baked onion recipe - which is to die for, almost literally, given the cream and bacon - the parsnip and pancetta tagliatelle, the chicken in a bag, the roast vegetables, and the roasted monkfish smeared with blitzed sundried tomatoes, basil, garlic and oil and wrapped in prosciutto. I now make a cheapo version using other white fish fillets, because monkfish is trendily expensive in this country. Anyway I had been looking forward to this new monkfish recipe as an excuse to splurge on monkfish, instead of making do with cheaper fish fillets, and as a chance to try lemon mash, which sounded intriguing.
Jamie points out that monkfish can leach out juices when cooking and thus the recipe involves bashing up salt, rosemary and lemon zest in a pestle and mortar and rubbing it into the fish before leaving the fish to marinate for an hour. After an hour, rub it dry and either grill it or fry it for 2 mins in an oven-proof frying pan and then turn over and move the pan to a hot oven for 6-8 minutes, until cooked. Meanwhile, make the salsa, which consists of chopped basil, parsley and marjoram, celery heart leaves, garlic, lemon juice, black olives and red chilli, and also boil floury potatoes for the lemon mash. When cooked, mash the potatoes with olive oil, milk, lemon juice and seasoning. Serve with rocket dressed in lemon juice and olive oil.
This is a very nice recipe. The lemon mash was quite a revelation, but I suggest anyone who finds lemon overpowering beware; I love lemon, and I loved the lemony mash, but I am probably more citrus-obsessed than most. I will definitely make that again. The monkfish was deliciously meaty and the salsa very tangy - I will probably repeat the salsa with different fish too, as it has masses of flavour. This was a lovely dinner, ideal for a Thursday night treat when you're exhausted and the working week is grinding slowly to its conclusion and the weekend is finally approaching, though it would be a lovely dinner party meal too... Well, it would if your guests like olives and fish, which in my world is actually not to be taken for granted. Don't get me started on picky people, although I am coming to realize that I am closer to the picky child I once was and now mainly despise than I tend to believe. I'm not really in the mood for dinner parties at the moment: teaching is a pretty sociable activity, and at the moment I talk almost all day long, so I don't really feel like opening my mouth much in the evening. I just want to cook, eat something delicious and slump into a novel or the television and shut out the world. Monkfish with black olive salsa and lemony mash is a pretty classy way of doing that and comes highly recommended if anyone feels like giving it a go.