Monkfish in Korean-Style Gochujang Sauce

koreanmonkpApparently April and May are the best months to enjoy monkfish, so I’m glad to see it now every week at the fishmonger’s. I like its firm meaty flesh, its delicate taste and I particularly appreciate its resistance to powerful seasoning, such as garlic, chilli or gochujang, the Korean chilli paste. I created this improvised simple dish several months ago when, disappointed with the outcome of an apparently genuine Korean monkfish recipe, I decided to prepare this fish, but in my own, though similar way. I have combined more or less the same, well-trusted combination of ingredients I use in Korean Stir-Fried Squid and other dishes, but I was worried that maybe Korean-style monkfish was simply not my cup of tea… Luckily, monkfish and my Korean-inspired seasoning proved a perfect combination and now this simple dish is the first thing I have in mind when buying monkfish.

TIPS: Even if you buy a prepared, skinned monkfish fillets (or a whole skinned “tail”), you should make sure to remove all the traces of grey and pinkish thin “film” because it will shrink during the cooking process and somehow degrade the texture. You can try peeling it off with fish bone tweezers.

Of course, you can use any firm-flesh fish you like instead.

If you don’t have any Korean grocery shop nearby, gochujang is sold widely on internet, almost all around the world, so most of you should be able to buy it. Look for it also in Japanese shops and “general” Asian grocery shops. If you cannot find gochujang, do not try to replace it with other chilli pastes. It is not similar to any chilli product I have ever tasted and is an extremely important ingredient in the Korean cuisine (and it has a rather complex taste, hence the difficulty with a replacement).

The below ratio of the sauce ingredients should be treated as approximate. Adjust the level of heat, sweetness or saltiness to your taste.

Preparation: about 30-40 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

400-500 g monkfish “tail”, cleaned (see the TIPS) and cut into bite-sized chunks


4 tablespoons sake

2-3 tablespoons oil

white part of two green onions, sliced


2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot and sweet, sticky chilli paste)

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon Korean chilli powder (or other medium hot chilli powder)

1 tablespoon honey or syrup or sugar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

10 tablespoons (or more) of stock or water

1 tablespoon chopped green onions or chives

(2 teaspoons sesame oil)

Sprinkle some salt on monkfish and combine with 4 tablespoon of sake.

Put aside for 10 minutes.

Combine the sauce ingredients.

Heat oil in a pan.

Pat-dry the monkfish pieces and quickly brown on two sides (at high heat).

Take them out of the pan.

Add the sauce ingredients to the same pan and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and put the monkfish pieces, as well as the white part of green onions into the sauce.

Add more water or stock if necessary (it depends also on how watery ou want your sauce to be) and simmer the monkfish until it’s soft but not dry.  Check often the texture with a fork because monkfish is easy to overcook.

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, green onion and a splash of sesame oil.

16 Replies to “Monkfish in Korean-Style Gochujang Sauce”

  1. Sounds like a great dish. I’ll have to keep it in mind the next time I’m shopping for fish. What would you use instead of monkfish though … cod, haddock?

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. Any firm fish would be ok here, I think. If you use a more delicate fish, simply add it at the end, without browning in the oil.

  2. What a delicious sounding dish — so warming and satisfying looking too in that gorgeous Korean sauce. And… now that I have my very own Gochujang sauce courtesy of Amazon, I’m free to play around too ;-). I did not grow up with a lot of experience around fish and frankly I’m always looking for ways to enliven its flavor — this combination of ingredients is very appealing to me and I know I would just love this sauce. Thanks Sissi. Oh, something else that made me think of you this week! I have a new friend (yes, it’s still a big deal making friends/meeting people here – lol) — anyhow, she’s picking me up next week to go and visit her favorite Japanese market!! So excited and I will be stocking up on ingredients and freezing some freshies that I can never find in my ‘hood. I think I will take my camera on the adventure too :).

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. Amazon is amazing, isn’t it? In Europe they don’t sell as much food yet, but I’ve seen in the US many Asian products can be bought. Have fun at the Japanese shop! I’m looking forward to reading about your discoveries.

  3. I agree with my Canadian friends, it sure does sound like a wonderfully warming dish. We were introduced to monkfish in Lyon during our cooking class, I’d never had it before. I loved it, such a nice, firm texture. I was wondering what to have for dinner tonight, it will be monkfish for sure. I hope my fishmonger has some!

  4. The colors look really appealing. And the dish slightly reminds me of sweet and sour fish. That sauce will probably go well with just about anything.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. Yes, as I’ve mentioned it’s my usual Korean-inspired sauce I add to seafood and other stuff too. Gochujang is good with everything!

  5. I am not sure if I’ve ever had monkfish before. I love Korean style dishes and this firm-flesh fish must be perfect Beautiful looking dish you have there. Have a good week, Sissi! 🙂

  6. This looks like a delicious fish dish Sissi. I don’t think I can find the sauce here but I can always admire beautiful creations in your site! I have definitely learned more about Asian kitchen thanks to you!

  7. I already like your Monkfish in Korean-Style Gochujang Sauce just by looking at them. I love eating Monkfish in braised form with loaded spicy soybean sprout! (Agujjim). This is one of my favourite Korean dish. I wonder when you say you tried genuine Korean monkfish which you didn’t like, whether it’s the same one?

    1. Thank you so much, Sue. I’m glad you don’t disapprove of my experiments with gochujang 😉 I sometimes feel like adding it to everything!
      Yes, it was this monkfish dish. I love sprouts, so it wasn’t their presence. I think maybe my recipe source was wrong? I used a Korean cookery book as a source – usually foolproof – but this time maybe they had wrong ingredients/their amounts…The recipe called for a big amount of cornstarch and I didn’t like the final very thick texture… and also there was something with the flavours… (I did it twice because I thought I had made something wrong before. I thought it tasted boring which is unthinkable for a Korean dish! ). I did like the bean sprouts idea though!

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