monkfish on a bed of potatoes and olives with 13 bay leaves

In spite of its somewhat grand appearance in the picture above, it’s one of the most perfect minimal meals I know, and it’s been very popular with Barry and me for years. This time it was even more spectacular, for a reason probably related to a decision to include some habanada pepper in the mix.

Monkfish is the ideal choice, but almost any firm white-fleshed fish would work.

Also, I don’t think I had ever before included the particular potato cultivar, Nicola, that went into dish last night, although we had already enjoyed it in other dishes several times before. I  picked out medium sizes while at the Greenmarket stall yesterday. While researching it today and looking for a link to use, I learned this potato had its origins in the Lüneburger Heide [Eng. Luneberg Heath] in Lower Saxony.

The original recipe, from Mark Bittman, appeared in the New York Times almost 20 years ago.

These images show the dish as it looked just before it went into the oven with the fish, and as it looked coming out 10 or 12 minutes later:

  • * four monkfish tails (a total of 20 ounces) from American Seafood Company, rinsed, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, roasted at 400º for 10 or 12 minutes with three fourths of a cup of black oil-cured olives from Buon Italia, pits removed, on top of a bed of a full pound of very thinly-sliced unpeeled Nicola potatoes from Hawthorne Valley Farm that had been scrubbed, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and already roasted for about 40 minutes (reversing the direction of the pan once) in a very generous amount of olive oil (1/4 of a cup) with 13 dry Italian bay leaves, also from Buon Italia, and a pinch or so of a mix of both crushed dried orange/gold and crushed dark habanada pepper inside a large enameled cast iron pan, the potatoes having been removed when they had softened and their edges had begun to crisp, the contents of the pan, after the fish was cooked through, arranged on 2 plates and garnished with micro red amaranth from two Guys from Woodbridge, with a little undressed watercress from Eataly nestled on the side
  • the wine was a California (Napa) white, Sterling Vintner’s Collection Pinot Grigio 2016, from Philippe Liquors
  • the music was Mozart’s 1775 opera, ‘Il Re Pastore’, Ian Page conducting the Classical Opera, with soloists Sarah Fox, John Mark Ainsley, Ailish Tynan, and Benjamin Hulett