Just a quick post today, I still owe you some recipes from the springtime lunch a few weeks back. This one is how to roast monkfish tail simply, in such a way that you don’t stand over a pan for 15 minutes wondering if your guests are having a good time and you get a perfect juicy monkfish. If you weren’t using monkfish tail (it can be pricey) the same method would work with other firm, white meaty fish like hake, swordfish or even a thick piece of cod.
A monkfish tail will serve two hungry people, but can actually serve four people just as easily (the portion above is half a tail). I happily got five portions out of two tails. It’s the kind of meaty fish which can stand up to really robust flavours – monkfish with a red wine sauce is a French classic and is truly beautiful. That means it can take spicing in a way that oily or delicate fishes can’t, here I’ve spiced the tail itself with cumin and paired it with a spiced farro. But at the same time as being really a really robust flavour, it has a delicacy which is brought out by the natural sweetness of vibrant vegetables (here carrots and peas) which I’ve used to double as my sauce. This dish, in my opinion, really doesn’t need a sauce which might otherwise mask the purity of the flavours. However, one of my favourite roasted monkfish recipes is with a hazelnut, and parmesan spiced butter crust!
Cooking monkfish tail is fairly simple but preparing it is not – that’s why I always get my fishmonger to prepare it for me. They should remove the thick outer membrane which is inedible. However, if they ask whether you’d like it filleted you should say no. Not only is monkfish tail easier to cook on the bone, it aids the cooking process and increases the flavour. Monkfish tails don’t have any bones other than the central spine which means you don’t have to worry about bones being left in. That central spine not only imparts flavour, but stores heat causing the fish to cook more evenly in the inside.
Monkfish tail cooking is really only four simple steps: salting, searing, roasting and resting. However, like all fish it does have to be done last minute – but it only takes 20 minutes and for almost all of that time you can be at the table regaling people with your best story about that time you realised you’d forgotten your swimming trunks for PE and had to swim in your underwear (Please tell that’s not just me). I salt the monkfish when my guests arrive and leave out of the fridge, then as I clear the starters I sear the tails (two minutes) and place in the oven setting a timer on my phone. Then I go back to the table and have a drink and a chat. When my timer goes off (discreetly on vibrate) I go back into the kitchen, take it out and leave to rest for five minutes whilst I plate everything else up. Serve it and take it back – only 5 minutes away and it looks like magic!
Roast monkfish tail
- 1 monkfish tail
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- Sea slat
- Approximately an hour before cooking salt the monkfish – this helps to firm up the flesh and will give you a moister more even cook. Essentially it’s like brining a piece of meat. You don’t want to salt it any more than you would to cook it – you’re not curing it and you won’t wash the salt off. Treat it a bit like a steak. This step is optional, but if missed off it’s still important that the monkfish is room temperature before you cook it.
- Pre-heat your oven to 220 celsius.
- If spicing the monkfish, rub the ground spice into the flesh. In this case the cumin.
- Place a frying pan on a high heat and add some clarified butter (could be normal butter but clarified works slightly better). Once the butter is sizzling, add the monkfish tail and cook on each side for one minute until a golden colour develops.
- Place the pan in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, remove and wrap loosely in foil to rest.
- Leave to rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing off the bone. This is most easily done by running your knife flush against the bone along it’s length.