Keep it simple, that’s the key here. No fancy sauces, nothing with flavours that could be too strong or too “fishy”.
Think back to your childhood, how did you enjoy fish? If you’re anything like me, you’ve got fond memories of fish finger sandwiches in front of Doctor Who on the TV on a Saturday night. Plenty of butter, chip butty as well if you’re lucky. Or going with dad to the chippie to fetch fish and chips! Magic times.
Anyway, today’s recipe is a damn simple way to cook one of my kids’ favourites: Monkfish.
What? Your kids eat monkfish? Well, yes. I know it’s not the cheapest fish but it’s far from the most expensive and it’s really simple to cook well. It’s also ugly, and kids like eating ugly stuff, yeah? I mean, look at it! It’s hideous! How cool is that? The bit you’re eating is actually the tail. If your kids have seen Finding Nemo, the angler fish with the light on the end of the lure is the closest thing to a monkfish in there.
Right. On to the recipe:
What you need:
- Monkfish. Some. Not a lot. Afraid I can’t help you much more than that. If pushed, I’d say 1 half-tail for every 2 people, so a full tail would serve 4-6 depending on size. Your fishmonger will advise, they’re wise types who know these things. Have a look at your frying pan and take your best guess as to how much will fit comfortably.
- Lemons. 2 or 3.
- Butter. Don’t try this with anything less than proper, salted butter. It just doesn’t work (and you’ll waste the fish, giving your cat/dog a treat).
- Potatoes. New potatoes are good, standard potatoes are fine.
- Milk. Not a lot, just a splash to add to the mash if you’re using regular spuds.
- A frying pan to cook the fish in
- A regular pan to cook the potatoes in
- Wash the spuds. Don’t peel them. Cut new potatoes in half, regular potatoes into quarters
- Cut the monkfish tail into 1″ (2.5cm) cubes. Allow 4 per small person, 6 or more per adult. If you’ve got extra, panic not, they’ll be eaten.
- Boil the kettle and put the water into a pan to cook the potatoes. Add salt to the water (1-2tsp).
- Put the frying pan onto a low-medium heat.
- The hard work’s done. Trust me. The rest of this all takes place in the time it takes to cook the spuds.
- Put the potatoes into the pan, bring it back to the boil. Should take about 12-15 minutes to cook through.
- Halve the lemons, juice them and keep it somewhere handy. Give a lemon half to each of your kids and watch their faces when they suck it. Magic.
- Put a good slab of butter into the frying pan, when it’s melted add the monkfish. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the lemon juice.
- Turn the fish a few times while the potatoes are cooking. The buttery, lemony sauce is going to go well on those potatoes
- When the potatoes are almost done, pick the biggest piece of monkfish, take it from the pan and cut it in half, check that it’s cooked. If it’s not, keep cooking them while you deal with the potatoes.
- Drain them, add a knob of butter, put the lid back on the pan and toss them vigorously.
- Drain them, add a knob of butter, milk and a generous spoonful of butter/lemon juice from the fish pan.
- Put the lid back on and toss vigorously. You’ll get smashed potatoes.
Plates, knives, forks, serve. And that’s it. My kids will eat this until it’s coming out of their ears.
If you’ve got some frozen king prawns, they can be tossed in with the monkfish while it’s cooking and make an excellent addition. This also works well with cubes of most firm fish – ling, tusk, try something unusual! Ask the fishmonger what’s freshest and go from there. Let me know how it goes!
And if you’re after something a little less fishy, you could do worse than try Grilled Lemongrass and Coconut Chicken over at m’colleague’s blog, Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad where he’s testing the recipe from “My Daddy Cooks”. He’s got better pictures than me but, let’s face it, chicken’s nowhere near as ugly as that monkfish up there!