Monkfish has a sweet and mild flavor making it a perfect fish to cook and serve to those who might not love fishy flavors. Monkfish meat is also firm and much meatier than other types of fish. If you have seen monkfish on a restaurant menu and have been tempted to order it, you might be wondering exactly what it is and how it’s cooked.
Monkfish is not as pretty as other types of fish though, which is why some people stay away from it completely. If you cook it the right way however, and serve it with the right side dishes, you can make a new favorite meal for your friends and family.
How to Buy Monkfish
Monkfish is sold in many different ways including tails, fillets, and cheeks. Most stores or markets will sell it skinned without the pinkish membrane. If you buy a piece with the membrane still on though, you need to make sure you remove it before cooking.
For the best flavor and quality, you need to buy it fresh. Make sure it’s firm and doesn’t have a fishy odor that is too strong or off-putting. If you are buying a fillet, the monkfish should have white flesh and not be discolored or have spots.
How to Cook Monkfish
The one thing to keep in mind when cooking monkfish is the milky-looking fluid that comes when it’s being heated. If you plan to cook it on the grill, you will want to make sure you remove some of this liquid or it will drop down the grates and be very messy to clean up.
You can remove the liquid by salting it and patting it dry before putting it on the grill. You can also soak it in brine for an hour and then pat it try.
Grilling or barbecuing the fish is best because it will allow the flesh to stay intact while cooking. Some people even cube the fish to make kebabs.
Here are some quick examples of how to cook monkfish in a variety of ways:
Roasting Monkfish Fillets
Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan and wait until it’s sizzling hot. Add the monkfish and sear on both sides. Place in the oven for about 8 minutes or until cooked through.
Cooking Monkfish Tails
Monkfish tails are best when they are roasted. You need to make sure you remove the skin and sinews. You should also remove the tail fins. You can pan-fry them, poach them, or batter and deep fry them.
If you have thicker fillets, this might be a better choice than roasting or grilling. All you have to do is fry the fish for 2 minutes on both sides in a pan and then bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until done.
How do you Know When Monkfish is Done?
Other than cooking, it’s also important to know when Monkfish is done so that you can pull it off the grill or pan before you overcook it and potentially ruin the flavor. Monkfish gets very rubbery when overcooked, making it hard to chew and enjoy.
When monkfish is done, it should be firm and a little springy. To test for doneness, you can insert a knife into the thickest part of the fillet for a few seconds. Pull the knife out. If it’s hot to the touch, the fish is ready to eat.
If you have a meat thermometer, you can also insert it into the thickest part of the meat. Make sure it comes out at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
What to Serve with Monkfish
Monkfish is very versatile and can be served with many different dishes and flavorings. It goes well with many different vegetables including broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, mashed potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. You can also serve it with a combination of those vegetables for a heartier meal.
The easiest flavor for the fish itself is a nice lemon butter sauce. It’s simple and won’t take away from the flavor of the fish. If you want something spicy, you can cook the fish with Cajun seasoning or red pepper flakes.
Monkfish is easy to cook because it can be roasted, baked, or pan-fried. You can even dip it in batter and fry it in some oil for a fish and chips type of meal. Make sure to add a simple garlic or butter sauce and serve it with vegetables.