Monkfish and chorizo is a match made in heaven; add mushrooms to it and it's a skilletful of edible magic. Even for those who are not so keen on monkfish!
Food heaven or hell
They used to have this thing on Saturday Kitchen television programme where guest celebrities specified their food heaven and hell. The viewers texted in and, depending on how likeable the celeb was, they ruled the heavenly or hellish dish to be served to the guest.
My food hell? It's kale!
Now I’d never reveal my most hateful food if I featured on the programme in the likely event of being forced to eat it. I’d name a safer option, like cod or chicken tagine. No matter how ginormous the TV chefs’ efforts, I would never want to be forced to ingest kale.
The point of that particular stunt was of course to persuade the celeb and viewers that even the most hateful things can be cooked so magically, they’ll become delightful. And so it did sometimes happen, the plateful hovered up to gasps of awe and surprise.
I don’t believe they were genuine; I think they had made like I purported to and lied about their most hateful dishes.
Monkfish tail - food hell
Truth or lies aside, I actually endeavoured a ‘food hell’ experience recently, cooking monkfish for The Weather Man. It’s not exactly his hell but he’s not too keen. The result, I’m pleased to say, could have been televised: he claimed I managed to cook monkfish into a tasty dish.
And before the monkfish fans turn away thinking it’s not a recipe for them, let me reassure you: it was still very much the meaty, firm-textured but tender, delicious fish.
Salt white fish before cooking
It's a one-pot dish and it takes about fifteen minutes to prepare apart from salting the monkfish half an hour earlier. It’s a good technique whenever preparing white fish: monkfish, but also cod, haddock or hake as salt draws moisture from the fish flesh leaving it firmer. Nothing much worse than mushy fish unless we’re talking fishcakes.
What seasoning for monkfish?
Chorizo is spicy with paprika so it’s good to season the monkfish with it so the two complement each other. Dredging the fish chunks in spiced flour helps to additionally seal in the moisture as well as season it. And then it’s just cooking the ingredients in turns.
Start with chorizo as it needs a clean pan to crispen and release its wonderful paprika fat. But no need to clean the pan as the fish will cook really nicely in the chorizo fat.
How to keep the fish warm before serving?
Both once cooked, need to be kept warm which is a pain, I know – the trick is to have the oven on barely warm, 80C or so, and heat up a plate in there. Once off the pan, keep the chorizo and then monkfish on that plate in the oven – the perfect ‘warm place’ unless you’re lucky to own a food warming drawer apart from the oven.
Mushroom sauce with a secret ingredient
The last stage is cooking the mushrooms. The recipe says wild or exotic but of course use cup or chestnut mushrooms if that’s your preference or availability. A simple mushroom sauce will be made when you pour wine to the pan – with a satisfying whoosh! and a cloud of steam.
Reduce the wine and add the ketchup which is truly a secret magic ingredient in the recipe – the sauce will be gorgeous. Pile the mushrooms onto serving plates, arrange the monkfish and chorizo slices on top and wait for the murmur of delight from diners.