Crispy Fried Monkfish with Chili Oil Vinaigrette is an innovative dish that balances bold flavors, textures, and temperatures to create a wonderfully indulgent meal. Every bite of this dish promises a burst of diverse and unique flavors – the heat from the chili oil, the richness from the monkfish, and the freshness from the watercress salad – making it a delightful and memorable culinary experience.
What is monkfish?
Monkfish is a bottom-dwelling fish species found in the coastal Atlantic waters, particularly in the North Atlantic Ocean. It easily recognized by its distinctive appearance, having a large, flattened head and a wide mouth with sharp teeth. The rest of its body tapers to a relatively small tail. In other words, it’s remarkably strange looking.
It is renowned for its firm, white, and mildly sweet flesh, which has earned it the nickname “poor man’s lobster.” The texture and taste of monkfish make it a versatile option in cooking. One thing to note is that monkfish have a thick, inedible membrane that should be removed before cooking. Using a sharp knife, make a small incision between the membrane and the flesh at one end of the tail. Using your fingers or a pair of pliers, gently peel it away from the flesh, pulling it towards the other end of the tail. If the membrane tears, simply make another incision and continue peeling.
The star of the dish is monkfish, also known as the “poor man’s lobster” for its firm and sweet flesh. It’s coated in a light batter and panko breadcrumbs then deep-fried to golden perfection, resulting in a crispy exterior and tender, moist interior. The texture of the monkfish contrasts beautifully with the freshness of the salad underneath, making every bite a pleasure.
Drizzled over the monkfish is a feisty Chili Oil Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is a blend of spicy, tangy, and sweet, made with chili oil, vinegar, and a touch of sweetness. It adds a necessary kick to the dish, enhancing the flavor of the monkfish and bringing a touch of heat that’s balanced by the cool umami nodes from the salad underneath.
That salad – a simple Sesame Watercress Salad – is the base of the dish. Fresh, peppery watercress is tossed in a light sesame oil dressing, offering a nutty aroma and a delicate flavor that complements the boldness of the other components. Tossed with thinly sliced red onion and freshly chopped tomatoes, the salad adds a refreshing and crunchy element to the dish, balancing out the richness of the fried monkfish.
The richness of the fried monkfish, the heat of the chili oil vinaigrette, and the freshness of the watercress salad come together to make a dish that’s indulgent yet balanced and utterly satisfying.