Friday 26 February 2010

Monkfish Lasagne a la Rossini


This recipe is built around monkfish liver. Typically fishermen just lob the liver back into the sea. But this is a terrible waste. Monkfish liver is the foie gras of the sea and is every bit as rich. Because demand for the stuff is so low there isn’t a market for it, which is a real shame. Added to this is the ethical issue of whether it is OK to eat monkfish, given their increasing scarcity. According to the Chelsea Fishmonger anything from the Bay of Biscay is off limits, but nearer Cornwall it’s OK. For much more erudite monkfish liver information read his post here.

I didn’t just want to cook monkfish liver on toast. Or make a pate out of it. And as tasty as monkfish liver, bacon and pea-shoot salad with a poached hen's egg sounds, I wanted to do something more interesting. And then it dawned on me. Given that monkfish liver is often compared to foie gras, why not create a monkfish version of Tornedos a la Rossini. So I drew a picture where the fillet of beef was replaced by a slab of monkfish topped with a slither of it’s own liver.

So I cycled to Chelsea so fast that I got stopped by the police as I crossed Park Lane. I explained that I was late for the fishmonger and that an important recipe depended on getting my hands on a very elusive parcel of monkfish liver. To my amazement the police backed off and sent me on my way with a slap on the wrist. The incident only served to make me cycle even faster as they had taken away valuable seconds. Despite being late my parcel awaited me along with a handful of Barba Di Fratte and an inspiring chat with Mat about the ins and outs of how to cook monkfish liver and the general state of the seas.

With wind in my sails I steamed back to Balham and set about cooking. Here’s what I did.


200 grams monkfish liver
2 monkfish fillets
Pasta fresca
A bunch of barba di fratte
Lots of butter
1 lemon
Glass of white wine
Salt and pepper


Stage 1. Make your pasta as per this post. Roll it out into thin sheets that you will later use to envelop your main ingredients. It needs to be wide enough to encase the monkfish from tip to tail and then be able to wrap back on itself.

Stage 2. Place your 2 monkfish fillets in a roasting dish. Season the fish and anoint with butter. Pour a glass of white wine around the fish and cover in finely chopped barba di fratte. Or if you can’t get your hands on this use samphire if the season is right.

Monkfish pre cooking

Stage 3. Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes in the oven at around 200’c.

Monkfish liver

Monkfish liver frying

Stage 4. Meanwhile slice your liver about 8mm thick and dust with seasoned flour. When you take the fish out of the oven fry your liver in a hot pan so the liver crisps up.

Stage 5. Pour the juice from the fish into a pan and reduce to a fragrant sauce, adding a touch of flour if necessary.

Assembling lasagne

Stage 6. Then assemble your lasagne by laying a sheet of pasta on the bottom of the plate, followed by the fish and then some watercress. Then pour over some sauce and then top with two slices of liver. Then close the pasta and pour over more sauce. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze some lemon over it. And serve.

Monkfish liver lasagne

It was delicious. The liver is very rich so you need the lemon to lift it and the herbs to add a nuance of greenery. Monkfish liver has got a lot going for it and I am delighted with how this new recipe turned out. We drank a very fresh bottle of dry Riesling with this which worked very well.

Further reading:

A London Fishmonger Blog on monkfish liver
Mark Hix on monkfish liver, bacon, pea and egg salad
Monkfish Liver on Toast on Chocolate and Zucchini
Japanese Monkfish Liver (AKA Ankimo)


Hollow Legs said...

Oh my effing god. That looks amazing! I've never tried monkfish liver (or barba di fratte), but it looks absolutely delicious. Bravo!

PheasantPlucker said...

That is some serious cooking, I would love to try that, that takes cooking with offal to another level

Paunchos said...

@Lizzie - Thank you very much. I'm keen to find other ways of using these ingredients, so if you hear of anything let me know.

@PheasantPlucker - Thanks! Fish offal is very new to me. But it turns out I rather like it.

Unknown said...

I'm so dumb that I didn't realise monkfish even had livers. Looks fantastic. Will you come round and cook it here?

Helen said...

Wow! This is absolutely brilliant! I've not had monkfish liver but I've been very keen to try. Might ask my fishmonger. I've never even heard of barba di fratte so that's two more to add to the list. Thanks very much!

Douglas Blyde said...

Late for the fishmonger, eh? -That ol' chestnut!

Paunchos said...

@Sarah - I would love to. But not sure I'll be able to I'm afraid. Let me know how you get on with it.

@Helen - Top class enthusiasm! It's always fun trying new stuff out.

@Douglas - It's amazing it worked really! It's definitely a keeper.

catty said...

That looks ridiculously delicious. I didn't even know fish had liver but if monkfish liver is the foie gras of the sea, I want in! Great job, and awesome photos!

Niamh said...

Another fantastically creative post. Great recipe! Monkfish liver has been on my list for a bit, thanks to @chelseafish on twitter. Really must check it out.

Paunchos said...

@catty - Excellent. Just get in touch with @chelseafish - he'll sort you out.

@Niamh - Thank you very much. You're too kind. It's great stuff this monkfish liver. Looking forward to seeing what you dream up.


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