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Ingredients

Monkfish and angel fish

Other Names: Monkfish: Anglerfish; anko, ankimo (monkfish liver) (Japanese); baudroie, lotte (French); bellyfish; fener baligi (Turkish); goosefish; havtaske (Danish); rana pescadora, rape, sapo (Spanish); rana pescatrice, rospo (Italian); seeteufel (German); tamboril (Portuguese); vatrochópsaro (Greek). Lophiidae. Angel fish: Allmouth; ange de mer (French); angel shark; angelote (Spanish); ánghelos (Greek); bellows fish; havengel (Danish); kasuzame (Japanese); keler (Turkish); láimhineach (Irish); meerengel (German); Molly Gowan (Scotland); peixe anjo (Portuguese); pesce angelo, squadro (Italian); sfinn, wagess (Tunisia). Squatanidae.

General Description: Monkfish (Lophius americanus_) are large, deepwater, bottom-dwelling primitive fish with huge, gaping mouths. They are the best known of more than 150 anglerfish species, all with spines that end in a flexible, extended cord that they dangle like a fishing lure. Often known as “poor man’s lobster,” restaurants sometimes substitute monkfish for lobster in salads and bisques.
Mediterranean monkfish (_L. piscatorius
), from European waters, are popular throughout southern Europe. Whole monkfish are broken down at sea with the tail and the delicious liver saved and the rest discarded. The tail is firm and highly versatile and takes well to bold seasonings, marinades, and sauces. Most of the prized livers are exported to Japan for soup and sashimi; American chefs serve them foie-gras style.

Though similar in appearance and use, monkfish and angel fish (Squatina squatina) are unrelated; monkfish are true cartilaginous fish, while angel fish are related to shark and ray. Their rough skin is used to polish wood and ivory and to line sword sheaths. Weights, yields, and cooking methods for angel fish are similar to monkfish.

Locale and Season: Monkfish are found worldwide, but the main harvesting areas are in the North Atlantic. On the American East Coast, monkfish are often a bycatch of scalloping. Though available year-round in America, the fish are a winter delicacy in Japan. Angel fish range from the Mediterranean to Scotland and Denmark, with another species found in the western Atlantic. Once common, they have been declared extinct in the North Sea and are scarce in the Mediterranean.

Characteristics: Monkfish tails weigh from 1 to 4 pounds and are offwhite to pale gray and covered with a blue-gray membrane. When cooked, the meat is mild and slightly sweet with firm, dense texture. Monkfish has similar taste and texture to scallops or lobster (which it eats). The skin is not eaten. A monkfish liver weighs more than 1 pound. Yield is 35 percent from whole fish, 60 percent from skinless tail. Angel fish flesh is pleasant in flavor and texture and has no bones.

Monkfish tail

How to Choose: Monkfish with red blood at their cut end have been freshly trimmed. Dried-up brownish blood is an indication of age. Avoid monkfish or angel fish that are discolored at the edges or have a strong odor. Allow for significant shrinkage when cooking. The main fishing method used to catch monkfish, trawling, has been shown to damage floor habitat, so some organizations recommend that it be avoided.

Storage: Refrigerate monkfish and angel fish 2 to 3 days on ice.

Preparation:

Remove the blue-gray membrane covering monkfish tail. If left on, the membrane will shrink and the meat will toughen.

Grill, broil, sauté, or cook monkfish tail in chowder and stew.

Steam monkfish liver and serve with scallions and grated daikon mixed with Japanese red pepper sauce and ponzu sauce.

Angel fish is best poached, but chunks may also be fried or baked.

Suggested Recipe: Tunisian Baked Monkfish (serves 6): Season 6 monkfish steaks with salt and pepper and arrange in a buttered baking dish. Dot with 3 tablespoons butter and cover with 3 sliced tomatoes and 2 sliced green bell peppers. Pour the juice of 1 lemon over and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until the fish is mostly cooked. Beat 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon flour, pour over the fish, and bake 10 minutes longer, or until the fish flakes.

Flavor Affinities: Bell pepper, butter, celery, chiles, cilantro, corn, daikon, fennel, lemon, lime, olive oil, onion, orange, oregano, ponzu, scallion, shallot, tomato, white wine.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com