Fresh Monkfish is known as the "poor man's lobster"
You would never think that such a great tasting fish would come from such an ugly fish.
Monkfish have huge heads, tiny eyes and needle like teeth. Just above the mouth is a funny looking, spike like apparatus with what looks like a small piece of meat on it. This is used to entice its prey by waving it back and forth.
Very rarely does the whole monkfish make it to market. Most fisherman will remove the tail and the liver and toss the rest back in the ocean.
The tail is the only part of the fish that has any meat to it, as the rest of the fish is all head and belly. Most of the livers are sold to the Japanese market where they use them in soups.
Monkfish can be found in waters from the Norway coast to the Mediterranean and from the Grand Banks up to North Carolina.
Buying Fresh MonkfishAvoid monkfish that have a strong odor,discoloring at the edges or have dried-up brownish blood at the cut end.
The monkfish tail meat is dense, firm and boneless, with a mild sweet taste. Often compared to the texture of scallops or lobster meat, the uncooked meat is an off white to a pale gray color that is covered with a bluish membrane. Make sure that you remove that membrane before cooking.
Fresh monkfish tails have a high moisture content and will shrink considerably when cooked. If grilling, roasting, sauteing or pan-frying you will want to extract or draw out some of this moisture before cooking. An easy way to do this is to liberally salt the tail about an hour before you plan to cook it. Make sure to pat it dry before cooking.
If you happen to have a really thick piece of monkfish, I would suggest spliting it or filleting to a smaller thickness for a more even cooking.
Monkfish loins come in various thicknesses so it is always best to use the 10 min. cooking rule, which is cook your fish 10 min. for every inch of thickness. So use the times listed below as guidelines and adjust your cooking times to match the thickness of your fish.
A simple way to bake monkfish is to just brush it with olive oil or butter, season with salt and pepper and place the monkfish in greased baking dish. Preheat your oven to 425° and bake for about 15 min.,
Pan roasting is a wonderful way to cook monkfish, it gives the outside a little crust and keeps the inside moist. For roasting you'll need to heat a oven-proof pan, add a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place your fillets in the pan and cook for about 2 min., flip the monkfish to the other side and then put the pan in a 425° oven and finish cooking for another 6 to 8 min.
Being monkfish is a firm fish it will hold up on the grill very well. Over a medium-high heat on the grill cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side and let stand for about five minutes before serving. Unlike tuna where you cook it rare, you want the monkfish to be done. Look for an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Monkfish takes very well to bold marinades, seasonings and sauces.
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