Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tony Shalhoub's Favorite Fish

Ah, monkfish, how I love to hate to love you.

Monkfish has long been simultaneously one of my favorite foods to make and my least favorite foods to prepare. Every cook has certain tasks that they despise. In my past lives in the kitchen I would often pawn off the butchering to an eager sous chef while I toiled away in the bakery. Their dislike of making bread from scratch matched my dislike of butchering meat and this made for a beautiful marriage.

It's not that I really hate butchering meat. I just find it exceptionally boring. However, I hate preparing monkfish.

Monkfish is surrounded with a silver membrane that is, for some reason, a huge hassel to get off. It requires a sharp knife, and patience that I just don't have. There are plenty of other cuts of meat and fish that have similar membranes or silverskins but for some reason the one on monkfish is the worst of the bunch.

After some patient peeling and trimming the result looks a lot more like fish that you'd want to eat and less like the spawn of some hideous alien beast.

I chopped up some garlic, onion, red bliss and Idaho potato. I sauteed them in olive oil with a little salt and pepper then tossed in some San Marzano tomatoes, red wine, kalamata olives, and capers. At the very end I tossed in the cleaned monkfish tail and let it simmer until just done. The resulting stewed monkfish was tasty on top of some giant steamed asparagus.

The fish ended up perfectly cooked. Even though I haven't prepared it in a few years I seem to have kept my touch for preparing monkfish. I will say that as delicious as it was I will not be rushing out to purchase it again. I love eating it but there is something about cleaning monkfish tail that makes me wish I was doing anything else.

Next time I think I'll hire a prep cook to come in and clean it up for me. If you're interested in the job send me an email. Note: I may have to pay you in monkfish.

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