Sunday, February 1, 2009

guppy kisses: monkfish


americans are afraid to eat fish. shrimp and lobster don't count, neither does the seared salmon, fried flounder or tasteless tilapia at T.G.I. Friday's. it's a cultural caveat passed down from generation to generation; fishy = funky. no one wants to deal with bones, eyes or even the most remote aroma of the sea. fortunately, you are in luck, as most well-prepared seafood DOESN'T smell fishy. moreover, there are a wide variety of boneless, skinless and eyeless fish fillets available for you to enjoy without being hassled or grossed out.

a good entry-level fish is the monkfish:

a hideous monster of giger-esque proportions, but don't judge this book by its cover; this creature yields beautiful, boneless fillets that have a mild, sweet flavor reminiscent to that of lobster tail. in fact, monkfish in often called “the poor man’s lobster”, on account of its delicate taste and velvety texture.

livornese sauce is traditionally made with chopped tomatoes, white wine, onions, capers and olives. sliced bell peppers and caper berries help to bulk up the sauce, while the addition of red pepper flakes add some tang. in this recipe we will use the livornese sauce to delicately poach the monkfish fillets.

creamy polenta is a great starch to pair with this dish because of it’s uncanny ability to coalesce with partnering sauces.

monkfish livornese w/ creamy polenta

1# monkfish fillets, trimmed

2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 tsp red chili flakes
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup kalmata olives, roughly chopped
1/4 cup caper berries (capers will do)
1/2 cup marsala wine
1 (26 oz) carton of Pomi chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup parsely, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

1. trim-up your monkfish with a sharp knife. remove as much of the dark skin and connective tissue as possible. set aside under refrigeration.

2. heat olive oil and butter of medium-high heat. saute onions and peppers until brown around the edges; 6-8 minutes.

3. add garlic, olives, red chili flakes and caperberries. saute until garlic starts to brown; 4-6 minutes.

4. deglaze with marsala wine and reduce by half. add chopped tomatoes and simmer, covered for 15-20 muinutes.

5. add half of the parsley and the monkfish fillets to the sauce, cover and simmer until fish is cooked-through; flakey on the outside, opaque in the middle; about 6-8 minutes.

6. garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon and the remaining parsley. serve over creamy polenta.

creamy polenta
yield 1qt

4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 TBS honey
1 TBS fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 cup "instant" italian polenta
1 TBS white truffle oil
1 TBS grated parmesan

1. bring stock and water to a boil. add honey and fresh thyme, whisk to combine.

2. gradually whisk polenta into boiling liquid. DON'T STOP WHISKING!

3. cook at a lively simmer, stirring frequently until polenta reaches the consistency of hot cereal; whisk in truffle oil and parmesan cheese, off heat. SERVE IMMEDIATELY!*

*polenta will "set" if allowed to cool, leaving you with a solid mass - great for twice-cooked polenta cakes, horrible for creamy polenta.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -