About Monkfish

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Some species are good arguments for never seeing your meal before it arrives at the table. A fine example is the monkfish, which tastes wonderful but looks like something out of a science-fiction horror movie when alive. Anatomically, it consists of a massive, basketball-shaped head and belly, studded with warts, spikes and razor teeth, and with a muscular tail to push it through the sea from meal to meal. The tail is the only portion that's of culinary interest.

On Your Plate

  • The tail of the monkfish produces four beautifully symmetrical fillets of firm, sweet-flavored flesh. Its flavor and appearance are the reason it's sometimes called "poor man's lobster," though, in truth, monkfish often costs more than the similarly spiny crustacean. Monkfish is firm enough to stand up to grilling and broiling, though it's more often pan-seared, poached or baked. The flesh is pale and mild, and can be matched with traditional fish sauces such as beurre blanc or with bolder alternatives such as fruit salsas. It's sustainably harvested along most of the East Coast, and classed as a "Good Alternative" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program.

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