They are intimidating to look at and you might be wondering how to prepare this fish if you buy them whole. But the monkfish is one exotic-looking seafood that deserves a try. The flavour and versatility will surprise you. And you might just find yourself ordering a few fillets every so often for grilling, curries and more.
Let’s talk about why you should try monkfish.
The monkfish is a large, deepwater fish that is found around the British isles and more widely in the Northeast Atlantic. They can grow up to 6 feet long, and weigh up to 100 kilos! Their distinct wide and flat head makes up over 50% of its body weight. And it is full of sharp teeth, used for hunting fish and mollusks near the sea bed. There are two species found around UK waters that look very similar – the white and the black-bellied monkfish.
Why are they called monkfish? Some say the name comes from the cowl-like appearance of the fish’s huge head and mouth. Others say fisherman used to just give them away to monks because they thought the fish was unsellable. Little did they know the monkfish has not just unique looks but also a unique and delicious flavour.
Monkfish Flavour and Texture
The humble monkfish has earned the monicker “poor man’s lobster.” It has a delicate, sweet flavour that is often compared to the taste of lobster or other shellfish, at a fraction of the cost. It can also substitute other seafood like sea scallops, or popular fish like haddock, cod, and whiting.
Its texture is dense and meaty, with large flakes that hold up well in a variety of cooking methods. When cooked properly, monkfish has a rich, savoury flavour that is not too overpowering. It pairs well with a variety of seasonings and ingredients, from simple herbs and lemon juice to spicy curries and bold marinades.
Monkfish is an incredibly versatile fish when it comes to cuisine and cooking styles. One of the reasons for its versatility is its firm, meaty texture, which allows it to hold up well in a variety of cooking methods. Its mild flavour also blends well with different cuisine.
Monkfish can be pan-seared, baked, grilled, roasted, or fried, making it perfect for both quick and slow-cooking methods. The firm flesh is perfect for grilling or barbecuing and it holds up well when stewed or poached. It can also be used in soups, stews, curries, and casseroles, as its mild flavour blends well with a variety of spices and ingredients.
In terms of cuisine, monkfish is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean, Asian, and Caribbean dishes, as well as in British cuisine. For example, monkfish is commonly used in Spanish dishes such as paella and fideuà, as well as in Italian dishes like cioppino and zuppa di pesce. (Check out this king prawn and monkfish risotto recipe.) It’s also a popular ingredient in Thai curries, Indian biryanis, and Caribbean stews.
One of the most popular ways to prepare monkfish is by grilling or roasting it. This method brings out the fish’s natural flavour and gives it a crispy exterior while keeping the flesh moist and tender. Monkfish can also be pan-fried or sautéed, which is a great option for those who prefer a lighter and healthier cooking method.
Just keep in mind when cooking monkfish is that it can dry out easily if overcooked because it is a lean fish. To avoid this, be sure to monitor the cooking time closely and remove the fish from the heat as soon as it is cooked through.
It’s Easy to Prepare
Monkfish is a cartilaginous fish and doesn’t have a lot of bones. There aren’t a lot of sharp spines and fins to cut off, or guts to separate from the flesh.
When preparing a whole monkfish, first you remove the cheeks then separate the head from the tail. Next you take the liver, peel the skin and then take the fillets from the tail. There is a tough, transparent membrane around the fillets which needs to be removed as well.
The cheeks are a tasty meat, the liver can be prepared into a Japanese delicacy called Ankimo, and the head used for fish broth. You can take your pick as to what cuisine and cooking style you will use for the skinless fillets.
For whole monkfish, you can order here.
For monkfish fillets, order here.
It’s Great for Your Health
Monkfish is a nutritious fish that provides a range of vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of lean protein, with a 100g serving of cooked monkfish containing around 15g of protein. It is also low in fat, with less than 2g of fat per 100g serving.
In terms of vitamins and minerals, monkfish is a good source of vitamin B12, which is important for healthy blood cells and nerve function. It also contains selenium, which is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. Additionally, monkfish is a good source of phosphorus, which is important for healthy bones and teeth.
Overall, monkfish is a nutritious fish that is a great source of lean protein and important vitamins and minerals. As with any food, it should be enjoyed as part of a balanced and varied diet.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers the white monkfish a species of “least concern.” This means it is widespread and not endangered. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) that monitors UK’s seas and marine life, rates white monkfish as a “good choice” . This means that monkfish populations in UK waters are considered to be healthy and well-managed.
This is because monkfish is often caught using fishing gear that has minimal impact on the seabed, such as static nets or pots. As a result, there is less damage to the seafloor and less bycatch (unintended species caught alongside the target species) than with some other types of fishing gear. Thanks to sustainable fishing practices, monkfish are generally available all year round.