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.

One Pan Dinner – Pecan Crusted Fish with Caramelized Vegetables and Roasted Potatoes

One Pan Fish Dinner

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 pieces white fish, ~3/4″/2cm thick (mahi-mahi, cod, halibut, etc.)
  • 2 + 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 6 shallots, peeled and sliced to 1 cm thick
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into eights
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 12 baby potatoes, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, shredded
  • 2 Tbsps mayonnaise
  • 2 tsps dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roasted and chopped into small pieces
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions


Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Place parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Place potatoes in one corner of cookie sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Place carrots and shallots in another corner of cookie sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme. Place pan in oven for 5 minutes. Remove, stir, place back in oven for 5 minutes. Remove, stir (potatoes and vegetables separate), place back in oven for 5 minutes. Place fish on cookie sheet. Mix together mayonnaise, dijon, and garlic cloves. Spread over fish. Sprinkle nuts over the fish. Stir fennel in with shallots and carrots. Place back in oven for 5 minutes. Remove, stir (potatoes and vegetables separate), place back in oven for 5 minutes. Check that fish is cooked to 145ºF/65ºC. Serve.

Now for the details…

Day 9 of 14. Today’s daily recipe was inspired by friends of ours, who actually were the patrons of our most recent batch of groceries (in other words, they went out and got us groceries and dropped them off for us on our doorstep. We waved at them through the window!) Well before all this whole isolation-stay-at-home-to-flatten-the-curve had started, we had been talking about doing a cooking class to go through some basics. The first “theme” that my friend Andrea had suggested was “stuff you roast in the oven and learn to do other stuff with the oven real good too”. Fair. Being a Zoolander fan, this theme truly spoke to me.

And so, for our first ever (though virtual, cause we need to social distance y’all!) cooking class today, we did a one pan meal of pecan-crusted fish, roasted potatoes, and vegetables.

Let’s get started, shall we?

We start by preheating the oven to 425ºF/220ºC. When the oven is preheated, place the pecans in a pan in the oven and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the pecans are toasted, but not burnt. Set aside and let the pecans cool.

Next, we move on to prepping our vegetables. We will keep our potatoes separate from the rest of the veggies. We do this in order to allow the potatoes to dry out slightly and get nice and brown and crispy. Cut the baby potatoes in half. Place them in one corner of a parchment-lined cookie sheet, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir a bit to coat all that potatoey-goodness with oil, then sprinkle with salt.

Next, peel your carrots and cut into large chunks, about 1 1/2″ or 3 cm. Peel the shallots and cut into large slices. In another corner of your cookie sheet, place the carrots and shallots. Drizzle with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and stir. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the dried thyme. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for 5 minutes.

This will get the cooking started. But after 5 minutes, take the cookie sheet out of the oven, and stir (potatoes and veggies separate!) then place back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir again, then place back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and stir the fennel into the veggies. Then place the fish onto an open space on the cookie sheet. I used mahi-mahi (again, we had some in the freezer that we bought out of the back of some dude’s truck), but any fillet of white fish should work.

We are going to dress our fish before placing back in the oven. Mix together the shredded garlic, mayo and mustard. Spread the sauce over the fish and smooth evenly over the fillets.

Next, chop the pecans and sprinkle them over the fish. Place the cookie sheet back into the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Remove one last time, stirring the potatoes, and the vegetables. If the vegetables seem a bit dry , drizzle a bit more olive oil over top. Place back in the oven for 5 more minutes, or until the fish registers at 145ºF/65ºC.

Remove, and plate. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Happy eating.

Mahi-Mahi with Orange Scented Beurre Blanc Sauce

Mahi-Mahi with Orange Scented Beurre Blanc

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium-hard
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Ingredients

  • 2 pieces mahi-mahi, or other white fish
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsps white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 shallots, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces +1/2 Tbsp butter to cook fish
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp orange blossom water
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

Directions

Two options for cooking fish: 1) Set sous-vide machine to 53.5ºC/128ºF, cook fish in water for 30-60 minutes. Sear on either side in a pan with butter after removed from water. 2) Cook fish in buttered pan, flipping halfway through, until internal temperature of fish reaches desired level of doneness. Place shallots, wine, and vinegar in a pot and place over medium-high heat. Allow them to boil down until almost no liquid remains. Turn heat down to low. Start adding the cold butter in small increments, whisking constantly between adds. Just before the last few pieces of butter, remove from heat, add last pieces of butter and whisk until smooth. Add orange juice and orange blossom water. Salt and pepper to taste. Strain sauce. Plate fish, top with sauce. Serve.

And now for the details…

Day 5 of the 14 day quarantine challenge, and I’m going a bit “fancier” here with fish and a beurre blanc sauce. We have mahi-mahi in the freezer that we bought out of the back of some guy’s truck (no lie) a couple months ago and figured we should try to use it up! I have been wanting to try out my Christmas gift, a sous vide, on fish. But I knew that if I was going to do that, it would need some kind of sauce, or it would be pretty bland. I was thinking about sauces that I’ve tried in the past, but most are roux-based and are a little too thick/robust with a fish like mahi-mahi. Why not a beurre blanc?

Beurre blanc directly translates to “white butter”, which is very appropriate, since the sauce is basically melted, emulsified butter with some flavour. Don’t be discouraged by the “medium-hard” rating I have given this recipe. It is not too hard to do, but you do need to be able to give the sauce your undivided attention while cooking it.

For the sauce in this recipe, I decided to flavour it with some fresh orange juice, and I used some orange blossom water. Orange blossom water can be found in your grocery store where you would find other middle-eastern ingredients, or in some specialty stores. It had a glorious smell to it, and when you aren’t using it for sauce flavouring, it is a great flavour addition to sparkling water, desserts, or cocktails.

I chose the orange ingredients as a hat tip to Spain. We evacuated very quickly from what we had thought would be the trip of a lifetime… and while we were sad to leave, and stressed to get home, we left behind a country that is still struggling to combat the outbreak, and is now the second largest outbreak in Europe, after Italy. For a country that I had read about being so gregarious, generous, and tactile, I cannot even begin to imagine how this would affect day-to-day life. A particular moment struck me as we were seeking to make it home. We were on our way to the airport and needed to take the train. We were walking through the abandoned streets to get to the train station, and that’s when the moment hit. When I had been planning our vacation, I was so hoping we would get to see and smell orange trees in bloom while we were vacationing. And there were the trees: planted just outside the train station. They were in full bloom, with some full grown, bright orange fruits sitting in the boughs. The smell was intoxicating. The moment was a calm, joyous moment amidst chaos for me, and reflecting on it, I am holding on to hope. Hope for this confusing, scary time to pass us by. Hope for the countries so heavily affected to be able to achieve the supports they need. Hope for life to return to to a level of normalcy.

Sorry for the emotional divergence… and thanks for humouring my verboseness.

Let’s move on to cooking, shall we?

We start with the fish for this one. I used my sous vide for the fish, and if you are going to cook the fish this way, set your sous vide machine in the water and set the temperature to 53.5ºC/128ºF and let it heat up. Add the fish (in plastic) into the water and let it cook for 30-60 minutes. If you are able, salt and pepper the fish before adding to your bag, but ours was already vacuum sealed, so I actually just cooked the fish right in its package, no flavour added. If you are cooking the fish without a sous vide, we will wait until the sauce is mostly ready, and cook the fish just before serving.

Next, we will get ready for our sauce. If you are sous vide’ing the fish, wait to start the sauce until just when the fish is done.

Before we begin cooking the sauce, remove the butter from the fridge, and cut it into small chunks (~3/8″ or 1cm pieces), and place the butter back in the fridge to stay good and cold.

Chop the shallots finely, and add them to a pot with the white wine and white wine vinegar. Put the pot over medium-high heat, and allow the mixture to heat up to a boil and reduce, about 8 minutes, until there is almost no liquid left in the pot.

Turn the temperature down to low, and take the butter out of the fridge. Now is where we will start adding the butter in small increments, which will form up your sauce.

Using a large wire whisk, whisk constantly as you add in the butter pieces, a few at a time. Let the previous pieces almost fully mix/melt before adding the next few pieces.

Continue this until you have only 3-4 pieces of butter left. Then, remove the pot from the heat, and whisk in the last few pieces of butter. Squeeze the 1/4 orange into the sauce, and the orange blossom water, whisking them both into the sauce.

Strain the sauce to remove the shallot pieces, and set the sauce aside.

Finally, the fish. If you are cooking in a pan, salt and pepper the fish on either side. Heat the 1/2 Tbsp of butter in a pan, and cook the fish on medium-high heat, flipping halfway, until the interior of your fish reaches your desires level of doneness. If you sous vide’ed your fish, do a quick flash-fry in the pan with butter on high heat to get a little brown sear on the fish pieces.

Finally, plate your fish, drizzle the sauce on top, and garnish with some fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Happy eating.