Monkfish Bourguinon

Monkfish, the ugly fish known as the “poor man’s lobster,” is one of the stranger fish I’ve ever encountered, and its light, sweet flavor and meaty texture makes for a nice substitute for meat in a way that most fish couldn’t. We came across these monkfish filets in the Pike Place Market, and after tearing a couple of the fishmongers away from their heated and in-depth conversation about the relative merits of MDMA as a cancer treatment, we bought a hefty sized portion to cook for supper that night. Given the monk’s heft and substantial texture, I decided to go for a heavier stew than our previous night’s dish of mussels and use the same sort of tomato and red-wine based sauce found in a classic French beef burgundy. The result was a nice cross between a true bourguinon and a hearty bouillabaisse, and once again we were well pleased with the fresh taste of the seafood available at the Seattle market. This dish could be tasty with other white fish, but monk is one of the few species out there that can really stand up to a bit of stirring and stewing.

Monkfish Bourguinon

  • One pound monkfish, sliced into medallions.
  • 3 tablespoons beurre manié (flour mixed with butter)
  • 1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, whole
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 6 ounces pancetta, cut into lardons
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into coins.
  • 12-15 sugar snap peas (or more to taste)
  • 2 cups flour
  • Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper the monkfish medallions, set aside. In a large saucepan, cook the pancetta until it renders its fat. Sweat the shallots and garlic in the pancetta fat until they begin to turn translucent. Add the tomatoes with liquid and simmer on medium heat, stirring until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add the carrots and red wine, maintain simmer until carrots begin getting tender. Add the buerre manie, stirring to mix thoroughly. In a separate skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Dredge the monkfish medallions in the flour and brown them in small batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. When the fish has turned a golden brown, add it with the sugar snap peas to the tomato mixture and simmer until the peas have just begun to become tender and sauce has thickened. If sauce gets too thick, add a splash of water or wine and stir. Serve in bowls with ample amounts of crusty bread. Enjoy!


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