Thursday, February 08, 2007

Grilled or roasted monkfish with black olive sauce and lemon mash

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.


litlove said...

I saw this and thought I'd like to try it out, not least because monkfish is one of the few fish boy Litlove will eat. And why? Because you can fish for it on runescape, oh yes. If only runescape or World of Warcraft would do something for the PR of green vegetables...

charlotte said...

I am also a big citrus fan and I think I must test out lemon mash immediately! I like the idea of the salt rub on the fish, because I tend to prefer fish very slightly on the dry side.

This looks totally yummy.

Freya said...

I love monkfish although it is prohibitively expensive if you're cooking for more than four people. Not sure about the lemon mash, if the citrus was toned down I think I'd be good with it. I prefer citrus in sweet things mostly - what a traditionalist!
Freya x

Ros said...

The lemony mash sounds good to me... in fact any mash sounds good to me but I've not tried it lemony before and it sounds like a great idea.

I wish I could afford monkfish more often. Last time I had it was at Christmas.

Kathryn said...

Litlove, I didn't know boy Litlove would eat monkfish! He has surprised me - although the reason hasn't. Maybe you could invent a game where broccoli became a superhero?!

Charlotte, I knew you were a citrus fan like me. The salt worked - the fish didnt ooze moisture as it sometimes does. A lovely dinner - so it should be, given the price of monkfish at the moment.

Freya - the salsa was really good with the monkfish. The fish would still be good without lemon mash or indeed with olive oil mash...

Ros, I am with you on the mash. And the price of monkfish. It is worth it, but it definitely isn't cheap!

Kathryn x

Gemma said...

That does look good - don't think I could sell Chris on the lemony mash though. I have an endless list of things I had never tried while growing up and I am finding new things all the time - thankfully my tastes have developed a little since I was younger!

Thanks for your sweet message on my blog.

Gemma x

Kathryn said...

Hi Gemma - try him!!! He has to widen his tastes some day...


Amanda T said...

I have just made and eaten Nick Nairn's Curried Lentils with Monkfish which is delicious but I can't help thinking that the monkfish could have been any white fish! It stays together, not falling apart, true, but it's trendy rather than really flavoursome in my opinion. I'm really p'd off with it's cost and pretentiousness!

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