Apparently 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.