It’s called Monkfish around here, but it’s also the delicacy the French call Lotte, the Italians Coda di rospo, the Spanish Cola de Rape, the Germans Seeteufel, and the English Anglerfish. Whatever it’s known as, it’s a delicious fish, and not really like any other.
I love this dish, and the fact that the monkfish can be substituted with other firm white fish fillets, like sea bass or pollock. I go way back with it: The original recipe, from Mark Bittman, appeared in the New York Times almost 20 years ago; I still have his ‘The Minimalist’ dog-eared clipping in my files.
- nine or ten ounces of scrubbed and thinly-sliced medium-size Peter Wilcox potatoes from Tamarack Hollow Farm, arranged, slightly overlapping, on the bottom of a glazed earthenware oven pan covered with 3 tablespoons, or slightly more, of a Spanish (Seville) house olive oil from Whole Foods Market, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, 10 whole Italian bay leaves from Buon Italia scattered on the potatoes, and then more oil (another 3 tablespoons or so) poured on top, the pan placed inside a 400º oven for about 20 minutes, turning it back to front halfway through, and, when the potatoes had begun to brown, two thirds of a cup of pitted Sicilian black oil-cured olives from Buon Italia were scattered about them, and 4 monkfish ‘tails’ (a total of one pound) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood placed on top, the fish sprinkled with salt and pepper and the pan returned to the oven for another 10 minutes more, or until the monkfish was tender but not overcooked
- one bunch of long fava bean greens, stems and leaves, from Gorzynski Ornery Farm, washed in several changes of cold water, drained, chopped roughly, and gradually stirred into a large, heavy, antique copper pot in a tablespoon or more of olive oil already heated above a medium flame, until they had wilted, a generous amount of roughly-chopped ‘Common’ or ‘Mojito mint’, from S. & S.O. Produce, tossed in, followed by a bit of sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, the vegetable arranged on the plates, drizzled with some more olive oil
- the wine was a Spanish (Bierzo) white, Palacio de Canedo Godello 2016, from Foragers Wine
- the music was the NOW Ensemble album, ‘Awake’, from New Amsterdam Records