I recently saw on tv a French chef preparing the relatively popular monkfish wrapped in bacon. I buy monkfish as often as I can (i.e. whenever the price is reasonable) because I love it for its subtle taste but also for its firm flesh and versatility. This smokey fish reminded me of the Korean squid with bacon and Indian spices, discovered at the excellent Beyond Kimchee blog and replacing, since then, the ex-favourite, more traditional Spicy Korean Squid. Since I prepare Korean style monkfish quite often (see the recipe here), I decided to spice it up in a similar way, adding of course the smoked bacon. It worked just perfectly! At the end, just before serving, I put on top another delightful product: chopped Korean Pickled Garlic (the dark brown pieces in the middle of the bowl) and it was one of the best fish meals I’d had for years.
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 of the monkfish.
Gochujang, the Korean chilli paste is unique and impossible to replace. 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 (check your local Amazon). Look for it also in Japanese shops and other 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). It keeps for ages, after opening, in the fridge, so it’s a good investment (in case you are wondering, what to do with it, check this link).
The below ratio of the sauce ingredients should be treated as approximate. Adjust the level of heat, sweetness or saltiness to your taste. Don’t exaggerate with turmeric: you can make your sauce bitter.
Preparation: about 30-40 minutes
Ingredients (serves two):
400-500 g monkfish “tail”, cleaned (see the TIPS) and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 stripes (thin) of smoked streaky bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
(a small handful of soybean or mungo bean sprouts)
4 tablespoons sake
2-3 tablespoons oil
white part of two green onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated
2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (see the TIPS)
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
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
10 tablespoons (or more) of stock (chicken/vegetable/dashi/Korean fish stock….whatever you like) or water
1 tablespoon chopped green onions or chives
(2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil)
Sprinkle some salt on monkfish and 4 tablespoon of sake.
Put aside for 10 minutes.
Combine the sauce ingredients.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan.
Fry the bacon and put it aside (don’t remove the fat from the pan).
Pat-dry the monkfish pieces and quickly brown on two sides (at high heat) in the bacon fat.
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 easily overcooked.
At the end add the sprouts (if using) and fried/grilled bacon. Give the dish a stir just to warm those up.
Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, green onion and a splash of sesame oil.
If you have Korean pickled garlic, it’s excellent with this dish.