This is part one in a two-part series that I have decided to run. Those of you of a more mature vintage will remember David Carradine in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu. You will remember the slow pace of things and the blind master imparting pearls of wisdom to his understudy Carradine. The younger amongst you will now be thinking about Kung Fu Panda and feeling warm and excited about the cuddly characters. I find that very sad. If you fall into the ‘more recent vintage category you need to play this to gain true enlightenment for reading this post.
You can see that when the student wants elucidation, he turns to the sagacious monk. You may think that this is a pretty tenuous link because I have been using it purely to set up two excellent monkfish recipes. However, try them and you too will gain insight and cultural enhancement.
First I want to revisit the best bit of value there is in seafood and cook Monkfish Cheeks in Black Bean Sauce with Chili and Coriander. The monk cheeks are a fantastic, undervalued and thankfully, under priced part of this most ugly of fish. I have cooked them before. See it here.
To cook this for four people, you will need:
- 400 grammes of monkfish cheeks
- A yellow and a red chill (that’s what was in the fridge)
- A fistful of coriander
- A handful of fermented or salted black beans
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 clove of garlic
- As much ginger a garlic
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch / cornflour diluted in about 3 tablespoons of water
- Oil for frying
- Rice to serve
First, remove any membrane from the cheeks. Next, put the black beans in hot water to reconstitute them. Chop the ginger, spring onions, chilis and the garlic pretty fine.
Drain the black beans and roughly squash them. We want them to maintain some of their shape and substance. We don’t want a paste. Heat the wok.
Wisdom from the Monk: Adding the oil when the wok is hot. This helps prevent anything sticking. One should always heat a wok or pan before adding oil.
Add the ginger and garlic and stir until the aroma rises. Add the spring onions and chili. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Add the squashed black beans.
Add the monkfish and cook for another couple of minutes.
Add the soy and rice wine. Stir for a minute or so. Add as much of the cornstarch mixture as you need to get a nice consistency to the sauce.
Wisdom of the Monk 2: When adding any thickening ingredient to an oriental dish, don’t fret if it gets too thick. Simply add some water and soy sauce to thin it down. More sauce is rarely a bad thing.
At the last minute, chop and add the coriander.
Serve it over the rice.
Wisdom of the Monk 3: Cook the rice ahead of the monkfish cheeks. They take only a couple of minutes to stir-fry. The rice will stay warm in the pot, if you leave the lid on.
I feel that I have gained wisdom from the Monk. I pass it to you as the chef passes food to the diner, if you don’t mind me confusing my metaphors.
Future wisdom: My second instalment in the Wisdom of the Monk series will feature Monkfish Wellington, my fishy take on the British beef classic.