MonkfishI have had the pleasure to live the life of a chef for over 25 years. After graduating from the CCA (California Culinary Academy), I have been fortunate enough to have worked in some of the finest restaurants in America working side by side and learning from some truly legendary chefs. Here is a recipe I learned from Chef Julian Serrano while working at the #1 restaurant in San Francisco, MASAS.

Monkfish is known through out the world as the poor mans lobster because of their similar textures. This dish will give you a great meal without the dent to your wallet. This recipe takes a bit of time to prepare but the combination of flavors, colors and dramatic presentation make it a hit at any dinner party. Bon Appetit!

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 7 oz monkfish fillets
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 10 small red bliss potatoes
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1 head of garlic (peeled)
  • 6 ripe roma tomatoes or canned tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil

For The Garlic Confit:
Take whole cloves of garlic and slice as thin as a dime on a Japanese mandoline or by hand. Blanch garlic in boiling salted water three times to remove the bitterness and most of the smell. Pat garlic chips dry on a towel. Warm about 1/2 inch deep of canola oil in a small pot. Add blanched garlic and cook slowly on the lowest heat setting, so that it is barely sizzling. Stir every few minutes and cook until just turning golden brown. Remove garlic chips from oil and drain on paper towel. They will keep cooking for a few minutes after you remove them from the oil so don’t cook too much or they will burn and taste bitter. Save garlic oil for other uses.

For The Basil Oil:
Wash basil and pick off leaves. Blanch leaves in a small pot of boiling water for about 5 seconds. Remove and place in ice bath until cool. Squeeze to remove all the water. Rough chop and add to a blender or food processor. Turn on and slowly drizzle in 1 cup canola oil. Strain thru a coffee filter in a strainer and pour into a small plastic squeeze bottle. Keeps refrigerated for up to 1 week.

For The Saffron Potato Coins:
Put 1/2 cup white wine in small pot and bring to simmer. Remove from heat and add saffron threads to infuse the yellow color. Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch thick coins. Season with salt, white pepper, chopped fresh thyme and olive oil. Place on lightly oiled baking pan and roast in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Flip potatoes over after about 7 minutes when they start to brown on the bottoms. Remove from oven and drizzle saffron jus over potatoes and reserve.

For The Tomato Concasse:
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. With a small paring knife, core and cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato, just barely piercing the skin. Gently drop tomatoes in boiling water for about 20-30 seconds until skins become loose but the tomatoes do not fall apart. Immediately put tomatoes into a bowl filled with ice water to “shock” or stop the cooking process. When cool, peel off the skins and cut in half from top to bottom. Squeeze gently to remove all the seeds. Rough chop tomato. Heat a sauté pan on medium high heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add 2 Tbsp chopped garlic and sweat for a minute until aromatic but not browned. Add diced tomatoes, salt, white pepper and chiffonade of basil. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes and set aside to cool.

For The Zucchini:
On a cutting board, slice 1/2 inch thick strips lengthwise off the sides of the zucchini. Cut strips into “football” shape and sauté in olive oil with salt and white pepper. Reserve.

For The Monkfish:
Preheat oven to 500′F. Take monkfish fillets and season with salt and white pepper. Heat a large non-stick sauté pan on high heat until it begins to smoke. Add about 3 Tbsp of canola oil and wait 15 seconds. Add fish to pan and brown lightly on all sides. Place a sprig of thyme on each fish and throw 3 whole cloves of garlic into the pan. Put the pan in the oven for about 5 minutes and cook until tender to the touch, but not falling apart.

To Assemble:
On a large dinner plate, place a spoonful of the tomato concasse and shingle 4 potato coins on top. Lay out 6 pieces of zucchini. Place fish on top of potatoes. Balance a few chips of garlic confit on the fish. Drizzle basil oil over the plate. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and celery hearts. Enjoy!

If you are too busy to make this dish yourself, you can always hire Chef Michael Thompson to make it for you in your home. Contact him at 732. 948. 2352 or michael @ chefmichaelthompson.com

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