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 Watercress 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.
Stage 3. Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes in the oven at around 200’c.
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.
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.
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.
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: