Sally McNair’s Mediterranean Monkfish (with Rose Murray Brown’s wine recommendations)
Thank goodness we can start seeing friends and sharing time – and food and drink! – together again. Here’s one of my favourite recipes for easy, foolproof entertaining using monkfish landed at Pittenweem harbour in the east neuk of Fife. Hope you enjoy it – and don’t forget to ask your guests to make a contribution to 500 miles!
Ingredients (serves 6)
2 monkfish tails, each cut into three pieces*
6 thin slices of pancetta or Parma ham – or 12 rashers of streaky bacon (optional)
2 medium red onions, sliced
4 – 6 red, yellow, orange peppers, sliced
3 – 4 courgettes, thinly sliced
Dash of white wine
Some dried or fresh herbs – basil, thyme, oregano
Gently fry up the onions, add some chopped garlic, then add the peppers and allow them to soften, adding some herbs and a dash of white wine, and reduce it all. **
Separately chargill the thinly sliced courgettes (if you’re short of time, just cook them with the peppers instead).
Pat the monkfish with some kitchen roll and season. Then, if using, lay the slices of ham or bacon on a chopping board and wrap around the monkfish pieces.
Quickly brown the pieces of fish in some hot oil.
Spoon the pepper stew into a casserole dish. Top with the courgettes, then lay the fish on top.
Bake in a moderate oven, around 180C (Gas 4/5) for 15 – 18 minutes, then let it rest for a couple of minutes and serve up.
I usually serve this with some cheesy potatoes – gratin dauphinois to use the technical term, which is my husband’s contribution. A dod of pesto is lovely too.
*Easy to prepare the monkfish ahead, ready to pop in the oven 20 minutes before you want to eat it.
**Tip for a veggie option – or an easy, tasty vegan meal – use the basis of this pepper stew, add a tin of good quality chopped tomatoes, some tomato paste and vegetable stock, a dash of wine vinegar and some smoked paprika. Cook for 10 minutes, season to taste, then add a tin of cannellini beans and a tin of butter beans and heat through. Serve with some crusty bread.
Rose’s wine pairing recommendations
A classic white wine match with rich textured meaty monkfish would be the Albarino grape. If you prefer a zippy lemony style try Albarino from the Rias Baixas region in NW Spain : Albarino Fefinas 2020 £17 The Wine Society with its soft creamy palate and refreshing finish is a great example. Alternatively head south over the border to Vinho Verde in northern Portugal where the same grape is called Alvarinho and tends to be richer and more intense in flavour; my top choice here would be minerally sleek Alvarinho Quinta de Soalheiro 2019 £17+ Luvians; Oxford Wine; Field & Fawcett; Stroud Wine; JN Wines.
As the monkfish tails in Sally’s recipe are wrapped in Parma Ham or bacon, you could serve a lightly chilled red with this dish – ideally a lighter red like Pinot Noir from a cool climate in France or Germany – or Mencia from north west Spain. Good examples would be smooth elegant and well-priced (for German Pinot Noir) Spatburgunder 2018 Martin Wassmerfrom Baden in southern Germany £14.50 The Wine Society – or juicy vibrant red-fruited Petit Pittacum Mencia 2019 Bodegas Pittacum from Bierzo in Spain £12.50-£13.70 BuonVino; L’Art du Vin.