Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Coda di Rospo in Padella con Patate Dolci e Finocchio
Pan-Seared Monkfish with Sweet Potato and Fennel

I know you can hardly believe your eyes... but yes- that is a beautiful piece of fish you see there. And although I am not the greatest of fish-lovers, by any stretch of the imagination... I was indeed tempted by this lovely, succulent monkfish today... I just couldn't resist!

Without doubt, monkfish is one of the ugliest fishes in the sea... black, with a huge, broad mouth full of razor-sharp, pointed teeth... it is no wonder the Germans call it "Seeteufel", or "sea devil".  But the flavor is as heavenly as it's appearance is hellish! Under the black skin, is a layer of gray "slime"- it really does look a bit nasty until the fishmonger has prepared it. The wonderful thing about monkfish is that has no bones, just one thick spine of cartilage which makes it easy for the fishmonger to fillet for you.
The fact that it is usually more expensive than sushi-quality tuna should indicate just how wonderful a fish this is to eat though... and if I even like it then it has to be good!

I served my fish on a bed of steamed sweet potato and fennel, which I began preparing as the first thing of all. I peeled and sliced the sweet potato very thinly, lengthways and cut the fennel to a similar thickness. I laid them out in my steamer, with slices of fresh ginger in between and let them cook for 10-15 minutes.  

I marinated the fish in lime juice, garlic and a little olive oil for around 10 minutes before frying, just to give it a head start in the flavor department. Next, I cranked up the heat and added the monkfish, a couple of slices of ginger and garlic and a 2" piece of

 vanilla, face-side down and fried it for 3-4 minutes. I trickled a little of the marinade onto it and then flipped the fish over and gave it a further 3-4 minutes, before turning off the heat completely and putting on the lid. Allow the fish a further 5 minutes in this way, in order for the residual heat to gently cook the fish through, without overcooking it or drying it out.

I sprinkled the finished dish, with finely chopped chives, a few red pepper corns, a little salt and pepper, some lime juice and a few drops of good olive oil. And it really doesn't come much easier or more delicious than that! Buon Apetito!

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