Monday, June 27, 2011

Lidia Bastianich's Monkfish in Lemon Brodetto

 Last week I was craving scallops and my friend Lenny at North Shore Seafoods had some fantastic fresh U8s on hand (post on those to follow.) While I was there, I noticed he also had some fresh monkfish on sale for a very reasonable price. I figured what the heck- I've never actually cooked monkfish before and I've heard it's quite tasty. First, I should mention that the monkfish is a pretty ugly fish in life....

....and it doesn't get any prettier as a filet:

So I hopped on the old Google machine looking for a cooking method/plan of attack and I happened on a recipe from Lidia Bastianich that looked light and tasty and included one of my favorite combos: white wine, lemon juice, and capers. Brodetto typically means something is served in a broth- this one thickens nicely so I served it as a fish with a nice sauce over pasta. You could also use rice or just serve in a bowl with some good bread to sop up the yummy sauce. So here's how the (I think successful) experiment went:

Monkfish in Lemon Brodetto

8 whole cloves of garlic
3 cups and 3/4 cup water
Approx 1 to 1 1/2 lbs monkfish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
3/4-1 1/2 cups canola oil (or enough to fill your deep fryer, if you have one on hand)
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine
1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted  (optional)
1 tbsp +/- capers (based on personal preference)
1/8 cup basil leaves, shredded
Pasta, rice, bread, etc....
Fresh grated parm (optional) 

-  Before you start working on the fish, you want to get the garlic prepped for a puree. Put the cloves in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water and boil for 15 minutes. Drain the water, add another 1 1/2 cups of water and boil for 30 minutes. This draws out the sulfur compounds in the garlic, leaving it mild enough but still retaining flavor.

- When this is done, put the garlic cloves along with about half of the water in which it was boiled into a food processor and puree until smooth. Depending on how garlicky you want the dish, you may choose to add more or less water to the puree. 

- Cut the monkfish into uniform chunks, approximately 1 1/2", sprinkle with salt.
***Note: there can be a membrane that covers the fish. Sometimes your fish guy/gal may not have removed the entire membrane or blood line. Make sure both have been removed before proceeding. 

-Monkfish can tend to be a moist fish, and the salt will draw out some of the water- it would be best to let the fish sit for 5-10 minutes after salting. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. 

-Lightly coat the fish chunks with flour, shaking off any excess.

-Heat the oil and fry the fish in batches for approx 4-6 minutes, depending on size. After removing each batch, drain them on paper towels and sprinkle with salt immediately. 

-Melt the chunks of butter in a sauce pan, and toss the monkfish pieces in the butter until coated and you hear a nice sizzle. 

-Pour in the garlic puree and coat fish.
-Add the lemon juice, 3/4 cups water, and the wine. I actually used a slightly diluted chicken broth- using the Better than Bullion, I used about 1/2 tsp of base with 3/4 c water.

-Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring as the flour from the fish works its magic and thickens the sauce.

- The recipe called for pine nuts to be added here. I didn't have any on hand, so I skipped them and substituted capers. Also, I wanted a thicker sauce so I removed the fish to a plate with a slotted spoon.
I kept the sauce over medium heat, added the capers and chopped basil. 

- I cooked it down until the bubbles thickened and had a kind of syrupy sound as it cooked. I took the pasta directly from the water with a slotted spoon and tossed it with the sauce in the pan. If your sauce is too thick, you can add a little bit of the pasta water. 

- Serve up the pasta with the fish and spoon some of the sauce over  the fish. Top with freshly grated parmesan. I got a little overexcited and didn't remember to take a picture until I had eaten half of my bowl, but this is what it should look like about halfway through :)

I would suggest a pasta with ridges so that it properly holds on to the sauce. I found this pasta that I have never come across before and forgot to write down the name of :( but I will find it again... it was almost like an open figure 8, with openings on each side that captured all of the saucy goodness. The monkfish itself had a great firm yet flaky texture and held up like a champ to the frying and sauce. I certainly plan on spending more time with this unfortunate-looking fish in the future.

1 comment:

  1. OH NO... I hope you are not done blogging, such a great start. And this last post is the perfect post, lots of details and photos making it look possible and tasty...

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