Monkfish with Browned Butter Sauce

Monkfish with Browned Butter Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 fillets monkfish, approximately 6oz each (can substitute with cod, halibut, mahi-mahi, etc.)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup broth (vegetable, chicken, or seafood)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Liberally salt and pepper the fish fillets. Add oil to a pan heated to medium heat and lay the fish fillets onto the oiled surface. Cover the pan and cook for 6-10 minutes (depending on thickness of fillets), or until fully cooked inside (~140ºF/60ºC), flipping the fish halfway through cooking. Transfer the fish to a plate and set aside. Add the butter and garlic to the pan and heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter has start to turn a golden brown. Add the wine and broth, stirring well. Allow the sauce to reduce by half, then add the whipping cream. Allow the sauce to cook for a 2-3 minutes, then add the tarragon, stirring in completely. Add the fish back to the pan, spooning the sauce over the fish. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately.

And now for the details…

So… monkfish. Have you tried this fish before? If you haven’t, I would say: no time like the present!

Monkfish has often been referred to as the “poor man’s lobster”, since it’s quite dense in texture, and a bit sweet in taste, a bit different from the typical flaky texture you get from many other white-fleshed fish. But I don’t love that reference, to be honest. It devalues the monkfish. Monkfish is similar to lobster in texture, but to think that the only thing it has to offer is as a cheap replacement to lobster is taking away the amazingness that is the monkfish! It doesn’t have quite the same flavour as lobster, it has a taste all unto itself: a bit sweet, salty, and of course there is no mistaking that it is in fact fish, but not an unpleasant fishy taste. And can we talk about the fact that you don’t need to shell it like you do lobster? BONUS!!!

Monkfish is a weird looking fish. I’m not sure which of our ancestors decided it would be okay to put this in our mouths, but they were certainly quite brave! Seriously, do a quick internet search for “monkfish” to see what these look like pre-fillet and you’ll understand what I mean. They are also aptly called “sea-devils”, which is nomenclature I can get behind. Could you imagine swimming and seeing one of these things drawing near??? Okay, I’m exaggerating, since you probably wouldn’t see them… From what I’ve read, they aren’t stalkers like a shark, and like to hunt by camouflaging themselves and waiting for their prey to draw near, but still!

An interesting bit of information I have found on these is that the only useable bits for the entire fish are the cheeks and the tail. If you’re not squeamish about watching a fish being filleted, check out this super cool video by Fish For Thought TV, where the gents break down an 18kg monkfish. They did some weighing throughout the process, and in the end, there was only just over 3kg of meat on an 18kg fish!

To get started with our cooking process, check out your fillets to make sure there is no membrane left on the fish. The fishmonger I had purchased my fish from had done a pretty great job of cleaning that fish before selling, and I had only a tiny bit of membrane left, and was able to remove it easily with my fingers, no knife needed! The membrane will cook to be quite tough and chewy, and considering the plump, meaty, juiciness of the fish, we definitely want to lose that membrane!

Next, salt and pepper your fillets quite liberally and let them sit for at least a few minutes. While you are waiting, get your other ingredients out and chop the garlic and set aside. This will allow you to move quickly through the cooking process, so you get to eating faster!

Next, add the oil to a medium- to large-sized pan. I suggested 1 tablespoon, but to be honest, you want just enough for a light coating on the pan. You can even use a paper towel to swish it around, coating the bottom surface, and soaking up any excess that isn’t needed. Heat the pan over medium heat, and then add the fish to the pan.

Cover the pan while the fish is cooking, lifting it only to turn the fish halfway through the cooking process. How long to cook the fish will totally depend on the size of the fillet. I used a temperature probe and aimed for an internal temperature of 140ºF/60ºC. It took my fillets about 10 minutes to cook through. The goal, like most fish, is for the translucent colour to turn opaque. Try to avoid overcooking the fish, since it can get dry and kind of tough if you cook it too long.

Once the fish is cooked through, take it out and place it on a plate to the side while you prepare the sauce.

Keeping the temperature the same, or just *slightly* higher, add the garlic and butter to the pan and let them cook, swirling the pan occasionally (as in, pick up the pan and swish it in a circular motion to get the butter and garlic to swirl around in the pan, then put it back down, repeating every now and again). This will go through a few steps here. First, the butter will melt down and encompass the garlic in a glorious hug. Next, the butter will kind of foam up, and the garlic will release that glorious smell. Then, both the garlic and the butter will start to brown and smell a bit toasty. That toasty smell is your cue to add the broth and the wine. When adding the liquid, things may get a little spurty. To minimize this, try to get the broth and wine to room temperature before adding, and stir well once you add them in. Let the sauce simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half, then add the whipping cream, stirring in completely. Let this come to a simmer and cook for another few minutes (1-3) until the sauce thickens slightly. Add the tarragon, then give the sauce a quick taste-test, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Next, add the fish back into the pan. This is just to reheat, not cook, the fish, so don’t leave it in for too long. Less than a minute for sure. Spoon the sauce up over the fish to help it reheat on all sides. Finally, transfer the fish to a serving dish, and then spoon the sauce over the fish, and serve!

Happy eating.

Salmon and Tuna Poke Bowl

Poke Bowl Recipe

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 2-4 oz/60-110g tuna, sushi grade
  • 2-4 oz/60-110g salmon, sushi grade
  • 2 Tbsps + 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsps + 2 tsp + 1/2 tsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsps sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp chili oil or hot sauce
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice (approximately 1/8 lemon)
  • 3 mini English cucumbers, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped Savoy cabbage
  • 2 Tbsps fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp pickled ginger
  • 1/2 sheet roasted nori, cut into matchstick-sized pieces
  • 1/2 c. edamame beans
  • salt, to taste

Directions

Cook the sushi rice according to package instructions. Once cooked, sprinkle 1-2 Tbsps rice wine vinegar, mixing in and fanning the rice to cool. Once cool, place in two serving bowls. Keeping them separate, cut tuna and salmon into small pieces, approximately 1cm/1/2″. Mix wasabi and 1 teaspoon soy in a small mixing dish, then toss tuna pieces in this mix, placing immediately onto rice in bowls, allowing excess soy to fall back into small dish. Discard excess soy. In a small mixing dish, mix 1/2 tsp chilli oil or hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar and lemon juice, then toss the salmon in this mix, sprinkling with a pinch of salt. Place salmon onto rice. Arrange the rest of the ingredients around the fish on the rice: cabbage, cucumbers, ginger, nori, edamame, cilantro. Whisk together 2 tablespoons soy, 2 teaspoons vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp chilli oil or hot sauce. Drizzle the bowls with the dressing. Serve.

And now for the details…

When I’ve got a protein craving (yes, I get cravings for protein… I am a bit of a protein-aholic), the protein I want most is raw tuna. And so when I was shopping yesterday and walked past the sushi section and saw a dish of tuna and salmon sashimi, I grabbed it, drooling a little, thinking what a delicious treat it would be once I got home. I ended up getting home closer to dinner time, though, and decided to turn the sashimi into the full meal deal, and make a poke bowl.

Poke bowl restaurants exploded in the 2010’s, and you can often find them all over the place. But admittedly, the bowls we get there and what I have created here is not super accurate to its origins. Poke originates from Hawaii, where you can find it everywhere, from poke shops to grocery stores to gas stations. But you won’t usually see the big, colourful bowls, permeated with vegetables and avocados. More frequently, the poke is dished out on its own, or onto rice, in to-go containers and served up with minimal accoutrements. And to be honest, it doesn’t need the accoutrements. Most of the poke we had in Hawaii is so delicious in its own right, it doesn’t need a bunch of stuff to go with it. Knocking my own bowl a little bit? I guess so. The additions I’ve put in do complement the poke, but they are added more to create a balanced meal, rather than be true to origin.

With that, let’s make that bowl!

Start out by cooking the rice. I have used sushi rice, but you could use any rice that suits your fancy. I’ve seen poke restaurants use brown rice, quinoa, or even cauliflower rice. Whichever you are using, follow the package directions to cook the rice. If you are using sushi rice, once it is cooked, sprinkle the rice with 1-2 tablespoons of the rice wine vinegar, carefully stirring the vinegar in, being careful to not break the rice apart. Place the rice in two serving bowls, spreading it so it covers the bottom of the bowl.

Next, we prepare the fish. We are going to use different marinades for each fish, so keep them separate. Cut the fish into small pieces, about 1cm in size. Putting the fish into the freezer for a couple minutes will help make them easier to cut.

First, the tuna: whisk together the wasabi paste and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Add the tuna pieces, and toss until the tuna pieces are covered. Transfer immediately onto the rice bowl.

Next, the salmon: whisk 1/2 teaspoon chilli oil or hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, and the lemon juice. Add the salmon pieces and toss to coat. Add a dash of salt to taste, then place the salmon next to the tuna on the rice bowl.

Place the cucumber, cabbage and cilantro around the fish.

Next, whisk the 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp chilli oil or hot sauce with a fork until well blended. Sprinkle the dressing over the bowls, getting it over the veggies and rice. Finally, place the edamame, ginger and nori, then serve!

(No pickled ginger in the house? No problem, neither did I! This recipe from the New York Times is a super fast, super easy way to put pickled ginger together, with only an hour resting time!)

Happy eating.