Pepper-crusted Monkfish with Red Pepper Relish
Filleted monkfish can be quite pricey, but there is no waste with head or bones.
It has a lovely, firm, meaty texture, and I think this particular recipe would be a superb choice for someone who wants to cook something quite special but has very little time. The pieces of fish are coated with crushed mixed peppercorns and this simplest of sauces not only tastes divine but looks amazingly colourful in contrast to the fish.
Begin the relish by heating the oil in a medium saucepan.
When it's really hot, add the strips of pepper and toss them around, keeping them on the move so they get nicely toasted and browned at the edges. Then add the tomatoes, the whole garlic clove and the chopped anchovies. Give it all a good stir, put a lid on and, keeping the heat at its lowest possible setting, let the whole thing stew gently, stirring once or twice, for 25 minutes or until the peppers are soft.
Then whiz the whole lot to a coarse purée in a blender or food processor. Taste and season with salt and freshly milled pepper, then empty into a serving bowl and stir in the balsamic vinegar. It is now ready for serving and can be made in advance.
To cook the fish, first cut it into small rounds about ¾ inch (2 cm) thick. Mix the flour with the salt, then crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar – or using the end of a rolling pin in a small bowl – to a fairly coarse texture. Combine them with the seasoned flour. Next, heat the oil until very hot in a good solid frying pan. Dip each piece of fish in the flour and peppercorn mixture, pressing them gently on all sides to get an even coating. Now fry the fish in two batches, for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until they're tinged nicely brown. Keep the first batch warm while you cook the second.
Serve, garnished with watercress or fresh coriander sprigs, and the sauce handed round separately.