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9 Easy Ways to Cook Finger-licking Monkfish

9 Ways to Cook Monkfish
A lean, yet firm-textured fish, monkfish is perfect for those following a health-conscious diet. Overcome your fear of cooking monkfish as Tastessence gives you information on 9 simple techniques.
Sheetal Mandora
Last Updated: Feb 23, 2018
Consume in moderation.
Although monkfish provides many beneficial vitamins and minerals, it also contains moderate levels of mercury. Hence, consume no more than six 6 oz. servings per month; pregnant women and children should avoid eating monkfish altogether.
To tell you the truth, monkfish looks quite ugly and scary. Now even though it has a huge flat head, and a gaping mouth that's full of sharp teeth, the flesh is dense, firm, and has one large central bone. This white-fleshed fish is sweet in flavor and is often times compared to lobster meat. The best and healthiest way to consume this fish is to either poach, bake, roast, or grill it to perfection.

Although the fish is quite versatile and can be prepared using different cooking methods, due to its lean flesh, the fish tends to dry out quite easily, if overcooked. Keeping that in mind, let's go over the 9 techniques to cook this wonderful fish.
What parts of the monkfish are edible?
Basically, the head of the fish is not consumed. Which is why, once removed, the rest of the meat is called the tail. But, some places do sell the cheeks as well. The fillets available in stores and at fish markets remove the membrane off the flesh. This is because if you cook the fish along with the membrane, it'll shrivel up around the meat. In Japan, however, you will find that the monkfish liver is considered a delicacy.
9 Ways to Cook Monkfish
How to cook monkfish properly
As this fish is quite wet, don't be alarmed if a milky liquid comes out while cooking it. Now if you're preparing a stew, soup, or curry, the liquid will be incorporated inside. However, when you roast, grill, broil, or bbq the fish, this liquid can interfere with the flavors. To eliminate this, you can choose to either salt the fish, or soak it in brine for about an hour before cooking.

Most times, it is quite easy to overcook fish. To know whether monkfish is cooked properly, take a sharp knife and insert the tip inside the thickest section; the knife will be too hot to touch and the flesh will appear bouncy. Always let the cooked fish rest for 5 minutes before you serve it.
Roasted monkfish tail
  1. Ideal ways to cook the tails are by roasting, baking, frying, poaching, or barbecuing.
  2. To keep the fish moist, keep the bone intact while cooking.
  3. With the bone in, an average portion per person is 200 g.
Fried monkfish fillets
  1. Always pin-bone the fillets before cooking.
  2. Best way to get color and flavor of the fish is to pan-fry or pan-roast it.
  3. 100 g fillet can be cooked in about 5 - 6 minutes.
  4. Marinate the fillets for at least an hour before placing on grill or barbecue.
Monkfish and scallop brochette
  1. A delicacy, the cheeks have a similar size and texture as scallops.
  2. Always remove the membrane before cooking with cheeks.
  3. Ideal way to cook cheeks is by frying them in a hot wok.
Recipes Using Different Cooking Methods
As you go over the recipes below, you will see that we have incorporated not 1 or 2, but 9 cooking techniques to prepare monkfish. Depending on what appeals to you, choose the recipe(s) accordingly. Also, alter the quantities of ingredients according to your preferences.
Grilled Monkfish wrapped in Bacon
Prep Time - 10 mins.
Cook Time - 20 mins.
Serving Size - 4


● Monkfish fillets, 2, 1 lb.
● Watercress and salad leaves, bag, 8 oz.
● Vinaigrette, 4 tbsp.
● Bacon strips, dry-cure rindless smoked, 12
● Tomatoes, halved, 2
● Thyme, sprigs, 2
● Salt and black pepper, for taste

● Place the fillets on your workstation and season with thyme, salt, and black pepper (lay fillets in such a way that the first fillet's thick end is lined with the other's thin end).
● Now place the bacon strips onto the board with the fish kept in the middle.
● Wrap the strips around the fish firmly.
● Preheat the grill for about 5 minutes and place the fish on top.
● Cook it for about 7 - 10 minutes, or until the strips begin to crisp up.
● Gently, flip the fish over to cook evenly on the other side as well. If there is enough space, grill the tomato halves as well.
● Squeeze the fish lightly to check whether it's cooked thoroughly or not. If the fish feels firm, remove it off the grill and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
● Take the vinaigrette into a small bowl and drain the juices from the grill pan in it; toss the dressing in the salad.
● Once the fish has had time to sit, use a sharp knife to cut diagonal medallions.
● Take out 4 plates and divide the salad into equal parts. Place the cooked fish on top along with the grilled tomato halves.
● Sprinkle lightly with black pepper and serve the fish immediately.
Baked Garlic-rosemary Monkfish with Lime
Baked monkfish
Prep Time - 10 mins.
Cook Time - 20 mins.
Serving Size - 4


● Monkfish fillets, 2, 1 lb.
● Butter, 1 oz.
● Olive oil, 1 tbsp.
● Tomatoes, halved, 4
● Garlic cloves, cut lengthwise, 2
● Rosemary, sprigs, 2
● Lime, 1
● Salt and black pepper, for taste

● Preheat the oven at 390°F. Line a baking sheet with 2 aluminum foils and brush them will olive oil.
● Place each fillet in individual foils and season with salt and black pepper.
● With a sharp knife, make small, diagonal cuts over the fish. Insert garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs in.
● Sprinkle the fillets with lime zest, and cut the lime into 4 equal slices.
● Slightly squeeze the juice over the fillets and then place the slices on top.
● Add a bit of butter over each fillet, and place tomatoes along the sides.
● Seal the edges of the foils and place them on a baking tray, and then into the oven.
● Bake the fish for about 10 minutes. Next, take the fish out to check whether it's cooked thoroughly; the fillets will turn opaque.
● To serve, remove the fillets out of the oven, cut the fillets in half and serve with baked tomatoes.
Pan-fried Bilbaina-style Monkfish Cheeks
Prep Time - 20 mins.
Cook Time - 20 mins.
Serving Size - 4

* The term 'bilbania' comes from Basque cuisine; which means green sauce or salsa verde due to the ingredients used in the recipe―asparagus, green peas, and hard-boiled eggs.

● Monkfish cheeks, 8
● Clams, well-scrubbed, 8
● Water, 2 cups
● All-purpose flour, 1 cup
● Green peas, cooked, ½ cup
● Flat-leaf parsley, minced, ½ cup
● Olive oil, ½ cup
● Dry white wine, ½ cup
● Asparagus, 1 can, 8 spears
● Hard-boiled eggs, wedges, 2
● Garlic cloves, minced, 2
● Salt, for taste

● Place monkfish cheeks on your workstation and sprinkle with salt. Spread the flour evenly over all the pieces to coat all the sides.
● Remove excess flour off the cheeks, and place the pieces onto a side.
Take a saucepan big enough to combine clams and water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
● After 5 minutes or so, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the clams boil for 5 more minutes.
● Now, set aside ½ a cup liquid from the saucepan, and discard the rest along with the clams that didn't open.
● Add olive oil in a skillet and place it over medium heat. Sauté garlic till it turns golden brown, and place the monkfish cheeks in a single layer over it.
● Let them cook for about 2 minutes on one side, and then flip to cook the other side. Once ready, add parsley, wine, and the reserved clam liquid over the cheeks.
● Gently shake the skillet till everything cooks for 1 - 2 minutes.
● Next, add the asparagus, peas, and clams, and let the mixture simmer for 2 ― 3 minutes.
● Remove the skillet off the heat and transfer everything onto a serving plate.
● Garnish with egg wedges and serve immediately.
Roasted Monkfish with Saffron Tomato Sauce and Mashed Potatoes
Prep Time - 20 mins.
Cook Time - 1 hr. 20 mins.
Serving Size - 4
Ingredients for Monkfish

● Monkfish fillets, 4, 2 lb.
● Extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp.
● Thyme, 2 tsp.
● Lemon peel, grated, 1 tsp.
● Mashed potatoes, for serving
● Basil sprigs, for garnish
● Salt and black pepper, for taste
Ingredients for Sauce

● Clam juice, bottle, 1 cup
● Fruity white wine, ½ cup
● Basil leaves, ½ cup
● Extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp.
● Balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp.
● Butter, 1 tbsp.
● Sugar, ½ tsp.
● Saffron threads, ¼ tsp.
● Cherry tomatoes, halved, 20
● Red pepper, dried and crushed, a pinch

● Preheat the oven at 325°F. Take a rimmed baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil.
● Add tomatoes, basil leaves, olive oil, sugar, and vinegar in the sheet, and toss properly.
● Place the sheet in the oven and roast tomatoes for about 40 minutes.
● Once ready, transfer the shriveled tomatoes into a saucepan and add clam juice, saffron, red pepper, and wine in it.
● Combine the mixture and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes; this will infuse all the flavors together.
● Now, add butter, salt, and black pepper, and give it a good stir. Keep the sauce aside while you prepare the fish.
● Preheat the oven at 425°F. Take a clean rimmed baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil.
● Place the fillets on top and brush it lightly with olive oil.
● Sprinkle salt, black pepper, lemon peel, and thyme on top and place it in the oven to roast for 10 minutes.
● Once the fish turns opaque, it is cooked. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.
● Meanwhile, place mashed potatoes (use your favorite recipe) onto the plates, top it with a fillet, and then spoon the tomato sauce on top.
● Garnish with basil sprigs and serve immediately.
Sous-vide Prosciutto-wrapped Monkfish with Piquillo Sauce
Prep Time - 25 mins.
Cook Time - 1 hr. 35 mins.
Serving Size - 4
Ingredients for Monkfish

● Monkfish fillets, 4, 2 lb.
● Prosciutto, 12½ oz.
● Olive oil, 1½ tbsp.
● Smoked paprika, ¼ tsp.
● Salt and black pepper, for taste
Ingredients for Sauce

● Piquillo peppers, can, 8 pieces
● Shallots, diced, ¼ cup
● Sherry vinegar, 1 tbsp.
● Extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tsp.
● Honey, ¾ tsp.
● Garlic cloves, chopped, 2
● Thyme, sprigs, 2
● Salt and black pepper, for taste

● Preheat the sous-vide machine between 111°F to 142°F. If you don't have this machine, you can prepare a water bath at home as well; use a food thermometer to ensure the temperature.
● Place the fillets on your workstation and sprinkle paprika over them.
● On four individual cling films, place 2 - 3 slices of prosciutto slightly closer to the edge.
Place the fillets on top and start to wrap the film tightly around them to seal them properly.
● As you do so, you will see that the prosciutto slices are covering the rest of the fillets as well.
● Place the rolled fillets in individual vac-pac bags, and into the sous-vide machine for about 15 - 20 minutes (depending on how thick the fillets are).
● Meanwhile, let's prepare the piquillo sauce. In a saucepan, sauté shallots, garlic, and thyme with salt.
● Once golden brown, add sherry vinegar and cook for another 30 seconds.
● Now add the peppers along with some liquid from the can. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
● Remove the thyme sprigs and take the pan off the heat.
● Stir in honey and use a hand blender to make a good paste.
● Add salt and black pepper as per your taste. Keep it aside while we check on the fish.
● Remove the vac-pac bags carefully and use a sharp knife to remove the cling film.
● Cut the rolls into 1" medallions and keep them in a serving plate; season with salt and black pepper.
Finally, to sauté the medallions, add olive oil in a saucepan; keep the temperature at medium-high.
● Lightly brown the medallions on both sides, about 1 minute on each side, and transfer onto 4 individual plates to serve with the piquillo sauce.
Deep-fried Monkfish Scampi
Deep-fried monkfish
Prep Time - 15 mins.
Cook Time - 20 mins.
Serving Size - 2


● Monkfish tail, 1
● Beer bottle (your favorite), 12 oz.
● All-purpose flour, 8 oz.
● Yeast, ½ oz.
● Sugar, 1 tsp.
● Salt, for taste
● Garlic oil, for serving
● Mayonnaise, for serving
● Salad greens, for garnish

● First, let's prepare the beer batter. To prepare, whisk flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and beer in a bowl to get a smooth mixture.
● Cover the bowl and let the batter sit for 15 minutes in a warm place; this will activate the yeast.
● Meanwhile, dice the fish tail into small chunks and coat them lightly with flour, and keep them aside.
● Combine a little bit of garlic oil with mayonnaise. Of course, you can choose to prepare the mayonnaise at home as well.
● Preheat the deep fryer at 375°F. Once the batter is ready to use, dip the chunks of fish in the batter to coat properly.
● Fry the chunks for 2 - 3 minutes, or till they turn golden brown on the outside.
● To serve, garnish a platter with salad greens drizzled with mayonnaise-garlic oil mix. Keep the crispy monkfish on top and serve immediately.
Poached Monkfish with Veggies and Crispy-fried Leeks
Monkfish with carrots
Prep Time - 10 mins.
Cook Time - 40 mins.
Serving Size - 2


● Butter, 1 lb.
● Monkfish fillets, 2, ¾ lb.
● Green peas, frozen, ½ cup
● Water, 4 tbsp.
● Leek, julienne, 1
● Carrot, ¼" slices, 1
● Vegetable oil, for frying
● Chervil and chines, chopped, for garnish
● Salt and black pepper, for taste

● Parboil the leek in water, for a minute, and spread it over clean paper towels.
● Meanwhile, ready a deep pan with vegetable oil to deep-fry leeks.
● Keep the deep-fried leeks on a paper towel and let's prepare the peas and carrots.
● Parboil peas and carrots for 5 minutes, and then shock it in a bowl of ice water; this retains the gorgeous color of the peas and carrots, and also keeps the texture fresh.
● Before we poach monkfish, make sure it's completely dry and seasoned with salt and black pepper.
● To prepare beurre monté, add water in a saucepan and heat it.
● Reduce the heat to low and gradually, whisk the butter in. Keep the temperature steady, between 150 - 160°F.
● Now, add the fish in and cook it till the temperature drops to 130°F.
● To serve the fish, place the cooked chunks on 2 plates. Heat the peas and carrots in some beurre monté, and pour over the fish.
● Add crispy leeks on top, and garnish with chervil and chives. Season with salt and black pepper, if you like, and serve immediately.
Stir-fried Monkfish Curry with Lemongrass and Lime Leaves
Prep Time - 15 mins.
Cook Time - 20 mins.
Serving Size - 2


● Monkfish tail, chunks, ½ lb.
● Coconut milk, 10 fl. oz.
● Water chestnuts, 3½ oz.
● Cilantro, chopped, 3 tbsp.
● Thai fish sauce, 1 tbsp.
● Vegetable oil, 1 tbsp.
● Lime leaves, shredded, 4
● Shallots, finely sliced, 3
● Garlic cloves, crushed, 2
● Green chilies, finely chopped, 2
● Lemongrass stalks, finely chopped, 2
● Thai basil leaves, torn, 2
● Lime juice, 1
● Ginger, finely grated, ⅓

● To prepare the curry, heat some oil in a wok until it begins to smoke.
● Stir-fry shallots with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, green chilies, and lime leaves for 2 - 3 minutes.
● Add coconut milk and fish sauce in, and let the mixture cook for 3 - 4 minutes, or until the curry turns slightly thick.
● Next, add cilantro with monkfish chunks and water chestnuts. Let it cook for another 3 - 4 minutes, or until the fish is cooked properly.
● To serve, divide stir-fried monkfish into 2 plates, drizzle fresh lime juice on top, and garnish with Thai basil leaves.
Shallow-fried Chili-cilantro Monkfish Cheeks
Prep Time - 10 mins.
Cook Time - 15 mins.
Serving Size - 2


● Monkfish cheeks, ½ lb.
● Chicken stock, 1½ oz.
● Sunflower oil, 2 tbsp.
● Corn flour, 1 tbsp.
● Soy sauce, 1 tbsp.
● Sugar, 1 tsp.
● Red chilies, chopped, 1 tsp.
● Garlic cloves, chopped, 3
● Cilantro stalk, chopped, 1
● Salt, for taste

● Coat the monkfish cheeks in corn flour and set them aside.
● In a deep pan, shallow-fry fish in sunflower oil until it turns golden brown; remove and place it on the side.
● Add chopped garlic and cilantro in the same wok to stir-fry; later, add chili flakes, soy sauce, sugar, and chicken stock to prepare a thick sauce.
● Once the sauce is thick enough, almost like a gravy, add the cooked monkfish cheeks and mix everything properly.
● To serve, garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy.
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