“How are you?”, “Ca va?”, “Come va?” are oft asked questions that do not demand a reply other than a simple confirmation that one is going very well. Our individual problems are quite sufficient to prevent us from needing to share in the problems of others, or we can send a cheque to Bono to salve any pricking of conscience. Only our nearest and dearest get to hear our sad tales of hard luck and injustice. Had a passing acquaintance asked me how I was yesterday evening I would have had to have told them, and thus lost a friend. In an unsolicited moment I told my wife how I was and we didn’t speak for an hour. Monkfish did that to me. Monkfish can be challenge and last night I foolishly accepted the challenge – and lost. Not only is he an ugly beast whilst alive, but even after the cosmetic work carried out by a fishmonger he still retains slimy membranes that are seemingly impossible to remove, even with the sharpest filleting knife, although I painfully removed several layers of my own skin in a manner that would have had Hannibal Lecter gasping in admiration. I was making a Jane Grigson dish which involved a shortcrust pastry case, mushrooms and monkfish which seemed to be a delicious combination. Only later did I feel that the fish could have been left out of the equation. I’m a hands on cook but, henceforth, I shall only deal with monkfish that has been completely undressed by an accredited monkfish stripper. Meringue and Gariguette strawberries were a fine dessert, but to be honest (which is an odd phrase, as it puts into question everything that I have written to this point) the salt had lost its savour. The following picture is of a previous, and successful, encounter with a monkfish. I shall probably carry this picture in my wallet.
roasted fillet of monkfish in prosciutto
filet de lotte en prosciutte rôtie au four
300gms monkfish fillets, cut into 50gm portions 6 slices ofprosciutto
sun dried tomato paste 24 cherry tomatoes on the vine
5 medium sized waxy potatoes
1/ Season the monkfish fillets with salt and pepper. Lay each fillet on a slice of prosciutto, which you have already smeared with sun dried tomato paste. Roll the ham around the fish.
2/ Peel and slice the potatoes to a thickness of around 50mm. Pour some olive oil into a roasting tin and lay the potatoes in a single layer. Season them well with salt and pepper. Put the tray into a preheated oven at180C- and cook for 12 mins. Take the tray out, carefully turn the potatoes and cook for a further 10 mins.
3/ The cherry tomatoes can be roasted at the same time, but in a separate tray, for 10 mins, or until they just start to collapse.
4/ Assemble the fish and tomatoes on top of the layer of potatoes, adding the juices from the tomatoes’ roasting tin.
5/ Cook for 15-20mins in the 180C oven.
To serve, lay a layer of 5 or 6 slices of potato on each plate, garnish with 4 tomatoes and lay the fish on top.