Chef Box Series: Roasted Monkfish with Tomatoes and Eggplant
As a great New England fish with distinctive character, monkfish is frequently on the menu at The Banks. It’s also a personal favorite of Chef Robert, who grew to love the fish while he was coming up in the kitchen at Le Bernardin in New York. (Poll some French chefs on their favorite fish, and monkfish would come up again and again.) He cooked it there every single day. In this recipe, he recommends dusting the fish with Wondra flour because it won’t clump. If you use all-purpose flour instead, make sure to use a light hand with it. The vegetable accompaniments take some time to come together, but they can be made in advance and warmed to serve.
RECIPE BY CHEF ROBERT SISCA OF THE BANKS FISH HOUSE IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
For the Sliced Eggplant Garnish
- 4 quarter inch slices of Italian eggplant
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
For Diced Eggplant and Tomato
- 1 pound eggplant, diced, peel on/off as you prefer
- 1 16 ounce can diced San Marzano tomato
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (half cooked with the eggplant, half cooked with the tomato)
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons basil, cut into ribbons
- 3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, 2 for the tomatoes and 2 for the eggplant
- ¼ cup green olives, sliced
- lemon juice, fresh squeezed, to taste
- artichoke hearts (optional for plating)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound monkfish loin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Wondra flour, to coat fish (all purpose flour works)
- vegetable or canola oil, for searing
Sliced Eggplant Garnish
Slice 1 eggplant lengthwise around ¼ inch thick. You will need four slices, one for each serving.
Marinate the eggplant slices in sliced garlic, thyme and olive oil while you prepare the diced eggplant and tomato.
Later, while your monkfish is resting, sear eggplant slices on both sides in a pan over high heat. A slice of eggplant will be the first layer on the plate, topped with the eggplant and tomato, and then monkfish slices.
Diced Eggplant and Tomato
Cook two tablespoons of garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the diced eggplant and sauté until tender. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, again cook two tablespoons of garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the tomato and cook for 15 minutes. Cooking the eggplant and tomatoes separately to start might seem fussy, but the resulting texture is worth it.
Add the eggplant and garlic back into the pan with the tomatoes. Add herbs and chili flakes, and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the olives, a drizzle of olive oil, season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel, and with dry hands, gently pull the remaining silver skin off of the fish. Don’t worry about getting every last bit. Monkfish looks very strange when raw and completely appetizing once cooked.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and dust with Wondra flour on both sides. Heat two tablespoons of oil in an oven-safe fry pan on medium-high heat, and sear fish until golden brown. Due to the shape of the fish, you may need to turn it several times to brown it all over.
Place the pan in the oven until the internal temperature registers 130 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven. Let the fish rest for 5 minutes and cut the loin into half inch slices. Then return the sliced fish to the oven to finish cooking through.
Arrange the eggplant slices on the plates.
Top that with some of the tomato and eggplant mixture and an artichoke heart, if using.
Lay a few slices of monkfish across the top. Garnish with thyme leaves or microgreens. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.