Entree – Pan Fried Monkfish

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,589
    Chef Cathal Armstrong demonstrates how to prepare the entree meal Pan Fried Monkfish.

    Cathal Armstrong: I am Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia. For our next spring dish, I am going to prepare a nice roasted loin of monkfish with some flower beans, some mussels, a little bacon.

    So the ingredients that we are going to use to make our monkfish dish today are some flower beans, a little cured bacon, some lemon juice, some fresh thyme, of course, a nice loin of monkfish, some mussels, shallots, salt, garlic. I am going to use a little chicken stock, some Wondra flour, little butter, little Canola oil. Then we will need a carving knife, a fork and a peltex.

    So the first thing I am going to do for this dish is start pan frying the monkfish. I would like to use a little a tray, so we don't make a mess. Then we will season out with just a little bit of salt just nice and evenly on both sides. Then we dust it with Wondra flour. Wondra flour is a great flour to use for a pan frying fish. It's a freeze dried flour and it's advantage in cooking is that it won't clump and make a batter like quality on the outside of the fish, it's just gives us a nice crisp crust. We use a little canola oil. Canola oil is a great oil to work with for cooking in general. It has a high smoke point, which means that it won't burn before our monkfish is cooked. It also has no flavor, so we will taste monkfish and not the flavor of the oil that we might be cooking in.

    So a nice medium-high heat, you see on here we use what's called a graduated French flattop. The heat source is in the center of the range and the heat graduates out to the edge. So while the fish is cooking in another pan, I am going to start the garnish for this dish.

    The first step will be to render a little bacon. You can omit the bacon, if you prefer to keep the dish vegetarian, but it does add a great quality and it's kind of a classic accomplishment with monkfish. If you choose to leave the bacon out, just use a little canola oil and a little butter to start your garnish.

    So gradually as the bacon cooks, the fat will lead out into the pan which will give us our vessel that we are going to use for cooking. We want to try not to disturb the monkfish while its cooking. We watch for a few indicators of how its doing by, you see a little beads of flour in the pan and we know how the monkfish itself is doing, by how that flour is changing in color and gradually come alike. So we want to do our bacon. It's important to keep your temperature fairly brisk. Again, probably a medium-high temperature, just to make sure that we keep the bacon with a nice chewy quality to it, but still crisp on the outside. We just check our monkfish. We see how it's formed a nice beautiful crust on the outside. The wonderful thing about cooking like this is stove does all the work, I just have to stand here and smile and make sure it's not burnt.

    So the next step here is we are going to add in our shallots. Its probably one shallot minced and then about a half a teaspoon of garlic. I don't like using too much garlic with fish because garlic again has such a distinctive flavor that we don't want to take away from the fish by adding too much garlic. We want to make sure that it's cooked, before we add the next step of the ingredient. We will add our flower beans which I already blanched and then the mussels. As the mussels start to cook, they will open and their natural juices will come out into the pan which is the first step of building the flavor of our stock. Again, we will check our monkfish, they have a film, they have a nice crust on the other side. Remember, there are three sides to every monkfish. There is a top, the bottom and the sneaky side that like to get away from. We make sure we get that into the pan.

    At this stage, to make sure that we get a nice even cooking, I will start to bake the fish. You see, I just carefully bring the oil up over to get a nice even cooking and a nice even color all over the crust of the fish on the outside, just a little there and then let the temperature recover. So once our mussels have started to open, we will add some lemon juice. The lemon juice will de-glaze the pan and bring all those nice caramelized flavors up into our sauce. I am using a whole lemon for this because I want a nice sharp lemon quality to the sauce. I am going to use a good amount of butter later which will balance the dish with a nice amount of richness.

    I will add just a little bit of chicken stock. Now you can use any stock you like at this point. If you want to keep the dish vegetarian, that's okay. The chicken stock again is just a neutral stock for us. We see how our crust on our monkfish is coming along nice and beautifully, we get a nice beautiful golden brown color. So our mussels have opened entirely here and then I am going to add a couple of cubes of butter.

    You make sure that the stock is boiling when we add the butter. This will help to make sure that the butter emulsifies nicely into the sauce. If the temperature is too low, the stock will get clarification and we get a greasy quality and not a nice emulsified delicious creamy sauce. So you see the key to one of the tricks here is to make sure I consistently turn the fish and make sure that we don't allow it to burn on any side. Now my sauce is just about finished. I am just going to set it off at a very cool part of the range, very low temperature to keep it warm, while we finish the dish.

    A little trick here to make sure that your fish is cooked through because with white fish we always want it to be cooked just what's called 05:22, which means to the point where its just perfect. I will use my fork and very gently just ease it in to see if I get any resistance from raw fish, which you can feel right there, that rubbery resistances that where the fish is still not quiet cooked in to the middle yet.

    So we will continue cooking. I will lower the temperature down just a little bit. So one more time I am going to check the fish, see if get any resistance. This time as a secondary measure, I am just going to check the temperature. The body temperature is 98.

    5 degrees. So we know if the fork feels hot to our lift just underneath, we know that the fish is hard in the middle. So it's just about finished.

    The last part of preparing the fish is where we bake it just give it a little fresh butter quality in the finish. So its just a little knob of butter, a little bit of chopped garlic, a little bit of fresh thyme. We just bath that nice and gently over the fish. Then we take it out and let it rest on our carving board.

    So while the fish is resting, we will finish the sauce. We will add again just a little bit fresh chopped thyme, we will add a little bit of salt. Then we are ready to make our dish. Into the bowl, we will arrange our mussels nice and beautiful around the edge. Okay, nice a little bit of sauce in the middle. Then we are going to carve the fish. See the way that fish is just nice and white all the way through. That's what we want, we don't want any raw fish. Raw white fish is not nice on the palate. There we have beautiful roasted loin of monkfish with flour beans, bacon and Brussel mussels.