"Poor Man's Lobster" – Monkfish with Herb Browned Butter
Recipe video above. With sweet, meaty shellfish-like flesh, monkfish is affectionately known as "poor man's lobster". But there's certainly nothing "poor" about this dish!If you're new to cooking monkfish, this is a good recipe to try. It's easy and showcases just how good monkfish is. There's a reason it's a firm favourite with upmarket restaurants!Other names: Stargazer is another name for monkfish in Australia.Allow around 150 - 180g / 5 - 6oz monkfish per serving.
300g / 10ozmonkfish fillets, skinless and boneless (Note 1)
1 1/2tbspextra virgin olive oil
1/8tspblack pepper, finely ground
2 tbsp/ 30gunsalted butter, cut into 1cm (1/2") cubes
2garlic cloves, smashed (Note 2)
Fresh herbs (Note 3):
1/2tspparsley, finely chopped
1/2tspchives, finely chopped
1/2tspchervil, finely chopped
Cut fillets: Cut each monkfish into 3 or 4 even size pieces. (Note 1)
Season: Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper.
Rack for resting: Place a rack over a tray (optional, for resting fish, Note 5)
Cooking monkfish (Note 2):
Heat oil: Heat oil in non-stick pan over medium heat (medium-high for weak stoves).
Sear first side, then turn: Place thickest pieces of fish in the pan first. Leave for 1 minute then add the thinner pieces. (Note 4). Cook for a further 2 minutes, then flip fish.
Add butter and baste: Add butter to pan. After it starts melting, add garlic and thyme. When the butter starts foaming, tilt the pan and start spooning the butter over the fish. Do this for 2 minutes or until the internal temperature is 55°C/131°F (Note 6), or the flesh flakes easily. Butter will begin to smell nutty - it's now brown butter!
Rest: Transfer fish onto the rack and rest for 3 minutes.
Add herbs: Add herbs to butter remaining in pan. Serve this Herb Brown Butter with monkfish.
Optional plating up, fine dining style!
Slice monkfish into 2.5cm / 1" pieces. Place on pea puree, then drizzle with Herb Brown Butter. Optional garnish with any combination of dill, parsley, chervil.
1. Fish - Monkfish, also known as stargazer, is a deep sea, bottom-dwelling fish. Monkfish is sold in fillet form, skinless and boneless.While this recipe is based on a monkfish, you can use any fish that is up to around 2cm (0.8") thick that is suitable for pan-frying. If it's much thicker than this, it needs to be finished in the oven before doing the butter basting on the stove (which then becomes a 3-step recipe!).See here for the Salmon version of this recipe.Cutting fish - Monkfish fillets come in different sizes, so cut into pieces as needed so they are as similar as possible in size. This ensures they cook in the same time. See photo in post for how I cut the monkfish fillets.2. Smashed garlic cloves - Place side of large knife on a peeled garlic cloves, then use the heel of your hand to bash the side of the knife once, making the garlic burst open but mostly hold together. This releases garlic flavour into the butter but makes it easy to pick out later.3. Herbs - This is a lovely, elegant combination. However, you could use just all of one of these herbs, or even skip it. In fact, brown butter without herbs is a classic sauce to serve with fish called "beurre noisette" in French.4. Thickness of fillets - Monkfish fillets are shaped with quite a thick end and the thinner tail end. The really thick end can take almost twice as long to cook, so put the thicker pieces in first, thinner pieces in later, and take the thinner pieces out first.5. Resting on rack - Resting any meat on a rack prevents the base going soggy, the way it's done in restaurants. This is an optional step. For day to day purposes, I just use a plate!6. Internal temperature of cooked white fish - Target 55°C / 131°F for medium, which is just cooked but not raw at all. Optimum juiciness!7. Nutrition per serving, assuming all the Butter Sauce is used.