Monkfish [Angler; Queue de Lotte (French); Lophius americanus (North America), Lophius piscatorius (Europe)]

Monkfish is not a swimmer, but an ambush hunter that blends into the sea floor. It is mostly a huge, ugly, inedible bony head with a small tail sticking out the back side of it. This explains why you'll never see a whole monkfish in the fish market - only the tail is sold. The American Monkfish can grow to 47 inches and 57 pounds, the European to 78 inches and 127 pounds but these figures are meaningless since most of the fish is inedible.

The European Monkfish is found from the Arctic seas north of Finland down through the Mediterranian and along the coast of Morocco. The American is found from northeastern Florida to Newfoundland, Canada, but is rare south of North Carolina or north of Quebec. The European is considered heavily over-fished, though not yet on any official endangered lists. Monkfish makes no effort whatever to be kosher.   Photo by Meocrisis distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 unported.

Monkfish top
Top side
Monkfish Bottom
Bottom side
Monkfish Pull skin
Pull off skin
Monkfish Follow bones
Follow the bones
Monkfish Fillets
Monkfish Remove membranes
Remove membranes

Monkfish is highly sought after for the unique characteristics of it's flesh. It somewhat resembles lobster in flavor and stays firm and solid even if overcooked. This makes it excellent for grilling on skewers, because it won't crumble and fall off. It is a costly fish, tails selling for 2006 US $6.00 / pound in Korean markets here in Los Angeles.

Yield:   A 1.3 pound monkfish tail yielded 15 oz of clean flesh (72%).

Stock:   The bones, skin, fins, membranes etc. make a very nice mild soup stock, but one fish isn't going to make a whole lot of it so blend with other mild fish stock if you need more.

Monkfish is very easy to process because most of the work has already been done.

  1. Pull the skin off over the tail and cut off the tail.
  2. With your fillet knife follow the fins and heavy backbone from top to bottom being careful to take all the flesh.
  3. With the help of your fillet knife pull off all loose membranes, cutting wherever they threaten to pull away any of the flesh. I'm not sure what those two darker lumps up at the front are but I pull them off and toss them in the stock pot with all the skin, membranes, bones, fins, etc.
  4. At this point you have two thick fillets. Most recipes will call for them to be cut into chunks crosswise. Any remaining membranes will shrink when cooked but cut this way they aren't a problem.

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