Friday, March 7, 2014

The ugliest Fish makes the best Stew

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!
 

19 comments:

  1. monkfish sure are ugly but they are very delicious!

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    1. Funny how something so not pretty tastes so yum...

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  2. OMG el pescado es espectacular,se ve muy rico,abrazos.

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    1. Gracias, Rosita (the only Spanish word I know, sorry!)

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  3. It's a beautiful-looking stew! But they really are ugly fish.

    I remember when my husband first went fishing in Australia he caught a flathead, and threw it back because he didn't believe anything so ugly could taste good. I was horrified - flathead makes the best fish and chips in the world! Much superior to cod.

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    1. I didn't know these fish were called flathead in Australia - a very fitting name!

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  4. I've never made a fish stew, this sounds wonderful!

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  5. Thank you Barbara and Robert for a fabulous dinner and evening in your beautiful home. The fish Provençale was wonderful so I am planning to serve it to the cousins on Sunday. Thanks for sharing. Robert's choice of wines for dinner was inspired. Again, thank you so much for having us. A bientot.

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    1. Michel, please let me know how your cousins liked it. Big hug to Shirely and you.

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  6. So true: monkfish is one ugly fish! You turned out a great dish with it....good friends to share it with makes it even better!

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    1. Sharing dinner with friends makes everything tste twice as good.

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  7. I would love to try this, but I don't think I can get monkfish --- do you recommend another variety that might work?

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  8. I'd love to try this Barbara, so delicious - cod maybe a more possibility for me too :)

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    1. Michel just told me he cooked it with cod and it turned out well, so do give it a try!

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  9. I have been keeping my eye out for monkfish for a long time. I think it might be so ugly that even the fishmonger is afraid. I heard it taste like lobster only less expensive. I love any type of fish stew/soup. I will give it a try with cod, but I really want to give monkfish a try.

    Love your post.

    P.S. I heard that the US and Europe are in dispute over cheese. Can't wait to see what comes of that.

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