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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Monkfish Medallions in Fresh Tomato Sauce


Monkfish has a mild flavor and a texture similar to lobster. Here I serve it with a very simple sauce that complements it but doesn't cover it.

If you want to make it extra special, you could stir in some capers or a spoonful of heavy cream at the end.

Monkfish tail fillets usually weigh about a pound. Cut into 3/4-inch thick slices, one tail should yield about 12 pieces which is enough for 3 or 4 main course portions.

If you don't have monkfish you can substitute another meaty white fish like halibut or cod, or spoon the sauce over grilled sardines or shrimp.

If you don't like anchovies, add them anyway. They're good for you (full of healthy omega-3 fats) and you'll never even notice they're there. If you absolutely can't include them, substitute chopped olives.

I used red scallions because that's what I had on hand. You could use another variety of scallion or substitute shallot or red onion. For fresh herbs, I used oregano and basil, but you could substitute others, like thyme, dill, or parsley.

This year I planted two varieties of basil in my window garden: the popular sweet basil with large leaves and globe basil with small leaves. I like to use the small leaves in cooking because they're small enough to be added whole, so I don't have to chop them. I simply strip them from the stem. It saves me a step and prevents the leaves from getting bruised with a knife.
Globe Basil

2 tbsp grass-fed butter
1 pound monkfish tail fillet(s), silver skin removed
2 organic lemons
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
6 red scallions, red, white, and green parts, thinly sliced
4 anchovies
3 large tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
Sprig fresh oregano yielding about a tablespoon of loosely packed leaves
Fresh basil leaves to garnish (sliced into ribbons if large)

Cut the monkfish into medallions about 3/4-inch wide. Arrange them on a plate in a single layer so they will come to room temperature quickly.

Zest the lemons and reserve the zest. Cut one of the lemons in half. Squeeze the juice from one half over the fish, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the medallions over and season the other side the same way with the other lemon half.

Once the fish has reached room temperature, warm the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the red, white, and light green parts of the scallion to the skillet (reserve the dark green parts). Sauté until they become soft and start to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, anchovies, and pepper. Cook until they begin to break down, about 5 minutes.

Place the pieces of monkfish on top of the tomato sauce and cook, uncovered, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side.

Once the fish is just fully cooked, transfer the medallions to a plate. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon over the fish. Cover to keep warm.

Stir the garlic, oregano, and lemon zest (reserving a little for garnish if you wish) into the tomato mixture. Cook until the liquid reduces and it becomes a thick sauce, about 5 minutes more. Stir in 1/4 cup or more of the dark green scallion parts and save any remaining scallion for future use (toss them with salads, add them to scrambled eggs, or use them to garnish other dishes). Taste the sauce for seasoning and make any necessary adjustments.

Once the sauce is ready, if the fish has cooled, place it back in the pan briefly, along with any juices, to re-warm it. Serve the monkfish medallions with the tomato sauce and garnish with fresh basil leaves and lemon zest.

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