Monkfish is one of my favourite fish species. Its cheeks and “tail” lend, both firmly fleshed, themselves to various cooking methods. I usually prepare both with coconut milk, either with green curry or with Indian spices. If I hadn’t stumbled upon this dish in The Big Red Book of Tomatoes by Lindsey Bareham, I would have never thought of cooking monkfish in tomato sauce and even less of seasoning it with rosemary (for me the lamb herb par excellence). The extravagant amount of garlic cloves was however what drew me most to this recipe. As a garlic addict, I found this new way to enjoy it fascinating, but, most of all, it proved excellent with monkfish, so I will certainly cook this dish very often.
I have slightly changed the recipe, mainly roughly reducing the amounts to a dish for two. I have also added a chopped garlic clove because the whole cloves didn’t made the sauce garlicky enough for me and one red sliced chilli pepper to make it hot. Check the original recipe and other inspiring tomato-based dishes from all around the world in The Big Red Book of Tomatoes by Lindsey Bareham. Apart from being inspiring and containing lots of tempting recipes, this is one of the most beautiful cookery books I own, even though it doesn’t contain a single photograph. The cover is amazing and the layout both practical and pleasing to the eye. I strongly advise it to all the tomato fans.
You can use monkfish cheeks here instead of the tail.
The author advises new fresh garlic to reduce the strength of its flavour; I have used rather head of garlic and it was not too strong for my taste (I am a big garlic fan though…).
This dish can be reheated (covered), though the monkfish will become slightly drier. If you do intent to reheat it, remove the rosemary stalk before putting the dish into the fridge; otherwise the rosemary scent will become too overwhelming.
Preparation: about 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves two):
400 g (about 14 oz) of monkfish tail fillets cut into two-three bite portions (cheeks can also be used here of course)
12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 stalk of fresh rosemary (or dried rosemary, but I cannot advise amounts here)
(1-2 fresh chilli peppers, sliced or chopped; I have used one big chilli)
1 glass of white dry wine (100 ml)
350 ml/about 12 fl oz tomato passata/crushed fresh or canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Blanch the garlic cloves in boiling water (I boiled them for two minutes).
Drain and dry them.
Wash and dry the monkfish pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the garlic cloves and the monkfish pieces until golden.
Pour the wine, give everything a stir and wait until the wine evaporates.
Add the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and let the dish simmer until the monkfish is soft. It will take 10 – 15 minutes or more. Taste the monkfish often; it dries quite quickly.
Serve with crusty white bread.