Remember the ugliest ever fish I found at Marseille's fish market? Just as one should not judge a book by its cover, monkfish probably looks so scary to hide the fact that it is one of the finest, tastiest fishes. In Provence it is called "the poor man's lobster" although I think that this refers more to the shape of the monkfish's tail.
So when I had to decide what to cook for my fellow blogger Michel and his wife Shirley who are staying at their lovely house in Sablet and came for dinner last night, I thought fish, thought Provençal and born was my version of "Queue de Lotte à la Provençale".
For 6 servings you need:
2 monkfish, cleaned, skinned and filleted (ask nicely and let your fishmonger do the work, if he refuses, go elsewhere or have a look at this video - it shows what a pain it is to do it yourself.
1/2 cup white wine
2 medium cans chopped tomatoes
2 medium sized mild white onions, halved and very finely sliced
2 or 3 cloves garlic, very finely sliced
1 pound of cherry tomatoes
a handful of capers
olive oil, pepper and salt, red pepper flakes
Cut the cleaned monkfish fillets into generous, chunky medaillons and keep in the fridge until needed. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan, add the cherry tomatoes and sauté over moderate heat until they begin to soften. Let cool.
Add a splash of olive oil to a second, ovenproof pan that is large enough to hold all ingredients. Add the onions and garlic and let sweat over moderate heat until translucent. Add the canned tomatoes, the white wine and let bubble away for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Season to taste. Skin the cooled down cherry tomatoes, taking care not to lose any of their juice, then add to the sauce. Stir in the capers.
You can prepare the recipe up to this point so that just 20 minutes before you are ready to eat you add the fish medaillons to the sauce (take care to cover the fish with sauce) then bake the stew for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 180C/350F.
I served this with baguette last night but we discussed that rice would probably be nice, too. And no, to accompany this fragrant stew we did not drink white wine but a light, nicely chilled red from the Loire Valley - Aristide Luneau St. Nicolas de Bourgueil 2011. A good match, merci Robert!
But best was all the laughter around the table, the great company of Shirley, Michel and their friend Kerry. Proof? We never got around or even thought about taking photos, so this one is of the left overs Robert and I will share tonight. Hope there is some of that nice wine left, too!