Cooking With the Pros: Preparing Monkfish with Chef Max Peterson

As always, our goal is to introduce folks to the variety of seafood available in our local waters. More often than not, abundant--and underutilized--species are not well known or eaten. As a whole, a very small portion of the food web is eaten, which results in an imbalance in the ecostystem. That's where our School of Fish comes in.

Take scup, skate and monkfish, for example. We've shown roomfuls of guests how to prepare each of these species, with delicious results. The goal with our School of Fish is to show folks just how delicious these underutilized species are in class, with the hope that they'll take what they've learned and incorporate it into their homes.

Monkfish: Our Fish of Choice for the Third School of Fish

We had the pleasure of having Chef Max Peterson of Hemenway's in Providence teach our third class. His underutilized fish of choice was monkfish. Monkfish is also referred to as Poor Man's Lobster because it is similar in texture to lobster. It is however much leaner. 

Monkfish can be intimidating to work with given the size of the fish and its appearance. 

 Monkfish is the catch of the day for School of Fish

Monkfish is the catch of the day for School of Fish

Although only the tail of the monkfish is edible, it is available either whole or fileted. In the marine environment, monkfish perch themselves on the sea floor, where they hunt for prey. They are a type of angler fish, and have the ability to lure their prey in with three modified spines called filaments. 

 Monkfish filaments

Monkfish filaments

Chef Peterson took guests through the process of prepping the monkfish, including removing the large head, the skin, the thin membrane covering the tail filets, and the spine. Prepared simply by sauteing filet segments in oil, after seasoning the filet with only salt, Chef Peterson gently basted the monkfish every few minutes with the oil in the pan, and added white wine, butter, and fresh herbs (chervil, parsley, and chives) at the last minute.

Simply put, the guests had the chance to eat expertly prepared monkfish, and savored every bite.