Monkfish with a Lemon Pepper Crust and a Warm Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette

Monkfish is ranked with lobster in terms of luxury, but I think its succulent juicy flesh has more going for it in many ways – especially in this recipe with its crusty edge and sublime combination of flavours. No one who eats it will believe how very simple it is.

Serves 4

This recipe first appeared in Sainsbury’s Magazine (Guide to Fish Cookery)

Monkfish with a Lemon Pepper Crust and a Warm Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette
 1½ lb (700 g) monkfish, weighed off the bone and trimmed
 grated zest and juice 1 lemon
 2 level tablespoons black peppercorns
 2 rounded tablespoons flour
 1 level teaspoon salt
 4 tablespoons olive oil
For the lemon anchovy vinaigrette:
 grated zest 1 large lemon
 3 tablespoons lemon juice
 3 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
 3 fl oz (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil
 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped


Wipe the monkfish with damp kitchen paper and cut it into rounds ¾ inch (2 cm) thick, then lay it in a dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice and leave it for 10 minutes, or longer if that suits you better.

Meanwhile, crush the peppercorns fairly coarsely with a pestle and mortar and add the flour, salt and lemon zest to them. Mix well and spread the mixture out on to a plate. Now dry the pieces of fish well with kitchen paper and coat them with the lemon pepper mixture.

Then, in a good solid frying pan, heat the oil until it's very hot and fry the fish in 2 batches, giving them 2-3 minutes on each side. Keep the first batch warm.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette by combining the oil, lemon zest and juice – preferably in a screw-top jar so you can give it a good shake – and add the chopped anchovies.

When the second batch of fish is ready, transfer it to join the rest, then add the shallot to the pan, adding a little more oil if necessary, and fry briefly for about 30 seconds. Then pour in the dressing, let it bubble and reduce down slightly, whisking briefly with a balloon whisk.

Serve the fish on warm plates with the sauce poured over and, if you like, lemon slices as a garnish.

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