Cuisine Fiend

spiced monkfish


Spiced monkfish tail

‘Monk’ fish - indeed! Monster, more like, because he’s not a beauty, this fish – I remember seeing it for the first time (outside my dinner plate) in a fish market in France. Scary! Like the Kraken, or Leviathan, or another mythical sea monster whose images sometimes bear resemblance to monkfish.

Expensive because it’s overfished. Sometimes called ‘poor man’s lobster’ but pound for pound, depending on where you are, you might have to cough up the same for your dinner, whether you go for lobster or the fish.

The fish are basically a tasty tail (a bit like lobster tail, hence probably the comparisons) attached to an enormous gaping mouth. The flesh is very firm and very tasty but it does have very high water content so the fillet needs sitting under a salt sprinkling for at least half an hour, before rinsing, drying and cooking.
It tastes fantastic lightly curried, which is what I’ve done here.

spiced monkfish

Servings: 2Time: 10 minutes plus chilling


  • 2 monkfish tail fillets
  • 1 tsp Korean chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric (or 2 tsp curry powder instead of the two spices)
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2cm ginger root, peeled and chopped into small matchsticks
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 2 tbsp. crème fraiche
  • about 50ml chicken stock made with a stock cube or fresh
  • a little chopped parsley


1. Monkfish needs firming up before cooking, otherwise it releases a lot of water whilst cooking. Sprinkle the fillets generously with salt, chill for at least half an hour then rinse off the salt and pat dry.

2. Cut the fish into scallop-sized chunks. Mix the spices and salt together and dip the monkfish pieces in the mix.

3. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, add the monkfish pieces, the diced shallot and ginger and cook for a minute. Sprinkle the saffron over the dish and turn the monkfish pieces over.

Cooking spiced monkfish

4. Turn the heat up, add the crème fraiche and the stock and bubble away for another 1-2 minutes. Transfer to serving bowls or dishes and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with plain rice.

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