This was quite a dinner. Meaty white fish like monkfish is macho enough to stand up to a few different flavours and textures and I really gave it some with this combo. The soft but compact layers of a perfumed and creamy potato and fennel bake. The punch of freshness from the gremolata, with its pungent garlic and sour lemon. The smooth puree of parsnips gently tinged with horseradish mustard. Yep – the monkfish, with its super buttery shallots, could handle these things nicely. Of course, these sides would also work nicely with other meals. The fennel bake would be lovely on the side of sausages, the parsnip puree delicious with steak and the gremolata lovely with pretty much any food you could shake a stick at.
Slow and low in lots of butter is a nice way to cook this meaty fish.
You will need:
1 monkfish tail, cut into two fillets
2 banana shallots, finely diced
1 1/2 tbspns butter
Splash of white wine
1 – Season the monkfish fillets with salt.
2 – Gently heat the butter in a frying pan and add the shallots. Cook for a minute or so and then add the monkfish.
3 – Cook the monkfish slowly for a couple of minutes on both sides. Add the wine.
4 – Continue to cook the monkfish for a few more minutes until just cooked through, spooning over the buttery, winey shallot mix as you go. Serve when the centre of the fish is just opaque.
You could try stirring a good stock into this puree instead of milk if serving with meat.
5 parsnips, peeled and diced
3 banana shallots, finely diced
2 tspns horseradish mustard (use horseradish or Dijon mustard if you can’t find this, of a mix of the two)
Around 200ml milk
2 knobs of butter
1 – Boil the parsnips until soft, around 15 minutes.
2 – Meanwhile heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and gently cook the shallots until translucent and on the verge of turning golden.
3 – Drain the parsnips, reserving 1 tbspn of cooking water .
4 – Mash the parsnips lightly with the cooking water, shallots and half the milk. Season and then blend, stirring in the extra milk until you reach a consistency you like.
5 – Stir in horseradish mustard to taste and adjust seasoning to suit.
You will need:
1 handful flat leaf parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
1 – Remove the stalks from the parsley and chop finely.
2 – Stir in the lemon zest, garlic and olive oil. Mix well and serve.
Fennel, potato & tarragon bake
This is basically a healthier and more fragrant version of Dauphinoise potatoes. I love Dauphinoise, but they are just so heavy and rich. I wanted a version I could serve with monkfish, so I swapped up the double cream for a blend of low fat creme fraiche and chicken stock and left out the cheese. I also added tarragon for another little aniseed kick.
You will need:
1 baking potato, about 225g, peeled and halved
1 bulb fennel, fronds and base removed
100-150ml chicken or vegetable stock (cooled), plus around 50ml extra
175ml (I use low fat) creme fraiche
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tbspn chopped tarragon
A little butter, to grease
1 – Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
2 – Use a mandolin to finely slice the fennel and potato. Place these in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, and add the chopped tarragon and crushed garlic.
3 – Spoon the creme fraiche into a bowl and gradually whisk in the stock, bit by bit, until you have a mixture that’s the consistency of double cream.
4 – Tip the creme fraiche mix into the bowl with the fennel and potato and mix well to coat all of the veg with the creamy liquid.
5 – Lightly grease two small or one medium baking tin with butter and spoon in the fennel & potato mix. Pour in the extra 50ml or so of stock and cover the baking tin(s) with foil tightly.
6 – Bake for 45 minutes, checking that there is still plenty of liquid half way through. Remove the foil after 45 minutes and return the tins to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until the top of the fennel & potato is lightly golden.
7 – Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.