Let’s be honest here - monkfish are not the most attractive of creatures. They won’t be winning any fish beauty contests any time soon. Or ever, come to that.
In fact, so monstrously hideous are they to look at that, when I worked in St Andrews some years ago, one of the two fishmongers in the town used to deliberately line up 2 or 3 particularly huge and revolting-looking specimens in the front of his shop window to give passing kids and the faint-hearted something to point and squeal at.
But, as we know, true beauty often lies beneath the surface. It’s a phrase that might almost have been invented especially for the poor old monkfish.
What was the deal when God was handing out the blessings, I wonder? Were monkfish last in the queue for beauty? Did He have pangs of guilt and think that he’d better make it up to them by making them taste good?
Yes, ok, so maybe my understanding of divine creation is a little, erm, wayward. The important point is that monkfish may be ugly, but when fresh and in season, they taste absolutely heavenly.
Well, it’s monkfish season right now, so it was off to Borough Market to find a nice, big juicy tail for supper.
I had a recipe in mind. A Gordon Ramsay recipe from his book, Secrets, to be precise, involving monkfish, parma ham, savoy cabbage, carrots, celeriac, and double cream. And nothing else (apart from good old salt and pepper). I could print the recipe here, but it’d be a breach of copyright, and Gordon’s bigger and louder than me and has rather more in the way of fighting funds than I do. So I won’t, if you don’t mind.
Suffice to say that the recipe worked a treat, and the fish was stunning – moist, firm, and full of flavour. The creamed vegetables were an unexpected revelation, too, in that the cream neither swamped them, nor made the dish too heavy or rich.
A monkfish marvel, no less!