I couldn’t resist the oferta—special price—for monkfish, so I bought a small one.  More than half the weight of monkfish (anglerfish in the U.K.; rape in Spanish) is the enormous head. The choice meat is the tail, which has only a center spine, easily removed, providing two fillets. The head and trimming are terrific for stock.

Monkfish is my choice for cutting into chunks for kebabs and for cooking in seafood stews and soups, because the firm flesh doesn’t disintegrate. Today, though, I’m making a cold dish, fake lobster, or rape alangostado.

Duplicity: not lobster, but a fillet of monkfish, rubbed with pimentón. Serve with a spoonful of (fake) caviar and real bubbly for an elegant dish. The sauce pictured is salsa rosa, pink mayonnaise with Sherry.

Medallions of fake lobster–monkfish–are served with a relish of corn and avocado. Pile this on a bun for a “lobster” roll. 

Pimentón adds the lobster coloring.

Monkfish has sweet-tasting, slightly chewy flesh, not unlike lobster, for which it can be substituted in any favorite recipe. Poaching the monkfish in a well-seasoned stock made with shells of lobster or shrimp adds true shellfish aroma. And, a little trompe l’oeil never hurts: rub the fillets with pimentón to mimic the reddish color of lobster meat.

Note: I wrapped one fillet with pimentón rub before cooking. The second fillet I poached in stock, then rubbed with pimentón and wrapped in plastic to chill. Results were about the same, so use whichever procedure you like.

For the deluxe treatment, serve the monkfish medallions with a spoonful of caviar (or fake it with lumpfish roe) and serve with Champagne (cava). Or, pile them in a bun and call it a “lobster” roll. Whether you’re faking it or not, this is a fine way to cook monkfish.

Use ordinary sweet pimentón (paprika), not smoked, for the rub. You can add a pinch of herbs if you like, but don’t overpower the natural sweet taste of the fish. The fish tails are rolled in plastic wrap (cling film) and poached. 

If you are starting with a whole monkfish, you will need a fish of about 2 1/2 pounds to provide 1 pound of boneless tail meat.

Use either fish or shellfish stock, if you have it, or salted water with a bay leaf and celery. After all, the fish encased in plastic is not benefitting much from the flavor-adding stock. Do save (freeze) the stock for soup another day.  If you are making stock with the monkfish head and trimmings, see the recipe here.
Unwrap poached fish and slice into medallions.

Use a shallow pan or deep skillet large enough to hold the fillets in one layer. Use enough stock/water to cover them. Take care not to overcook the fish. Keep the poaching liquid at a bare simmer. My small (4-ounce) fillets were done in 4 minutes. Figure 8 to 10 minutes for fillets weighing 8 ounces each. 

Drain the poached fish well, but don’t unwrap it. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. Slice crosswise into medallions or shred the meat.

Monkfish “Lobster”

Rape Alangostado

To serve 4

1 pound boneless monkfish (2 [8-ounce] fillets)

2 teaspoons pimentón (sweet paprika, not smoked)

2 teaspoons water

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

4-6 cups fish stock 

Optional accompaniments to the fake lobster:

Shredded lettuce

Cherry tomatoes

Strips of seaweed 

“Caviar” (salmon or lumpfish roe)

Salsa rosa, tartare sauce or mayonnaise

Drawn butter

Avocado-corn relish (recipe follows)

Remove and discard any skin or membrane from the fillets.

In a small bowl, combine the pimentón and water to make a paste. Stir in the salt and oil. Spread this mixture on all sides of the monkfish fillets. Place each fillet on a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll it up tightly and twist the ends and tie them with kitchen twine, like a sausage. 

Place the stock in a shallow pan or deep skillet large enough to hold the two fillets in one layer. Bring it to a full boil, then lower heat so the stock is barely simmering. Place the wrapped fillets into the stock and cover the pan. Poach the fish until cooked through, about 8 minutes for fillets that are about 8 ounces each. 

Remove the fillets from the pan and drain well. Do not unwrap them. Once cooled, refrigerate the fish until chilled, 3 hours or up to 24 hours. 

Unwrap the fillets and drain off any liquid. Use a sharp knife to cut them crosswise into medallions. Arrange the medallions on plates with lettuce and preferred garnishes or sauce. 

Avocado-Corn Relish

Picadillo de Maiz y Aguacate

½ cup diced celery

¼ cup diced red bell pepper

½ cup corn kernels

¼ cup chopped scallions

Fresh red chile, minced (optional)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Combine the celery, pepper, corn, scallions, chile, if using, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and oil. Season to taste with salt. 

Serve the relish immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 2 days.

Sauces to accompany lobster, fake or not: 

More recipes with monkfish:

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