Easy Oriental Part 16 – Steamed Monkfish with Spring Onions

Steamed Monkfish Oriental Style (9 of 9)It’s a while since I have posted something from further east than Howth (A fishing port on the far side of Dublin Bay). This is a slight variation on a classic, served in some of the best Oriental restaurants around. It is not dished up in the average Chinese where the height of culinary ambition matches the diners’ desire for a gooey sauce and a slice of pineapple with their sweet and sour chicken balls. This dish has finesse. It has class and refinement. It does not go well with beer and it will never become a post-pub favourite in the way that chicken chow mein or prawn curry with fried rice have. This is a good thing.

If you will forgive my presumption, I believe that you are an elegant creature and you have standards. You want to impress and you also have a reputation that you like to maintain and even to occasionally enhance. Serving Steamed Monkfish with Spring Onions to discerning guests is sure to electrify their taste buds without setting fire to their sensitivities. It will elevate your social status and has the benefit of being incredibly easy to prepare.

So elegant, I got my best chopping board out for it.

So elegant, I got my best chopping board out for it.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • 500 grammes of fresh monkfish tail, trimmed of all membrane
  • 3 or 4 spring onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic or half a bulb of single bulb garlic
  • 1 cm (1/2 inch) of ginger
  • 5 teaspoons of soy sauce
  •  A few drops of chili oil

Get the preparation underway by slicing the fish into nice chunky medallions of roughly 1 cm width.

Get the medallions of even size. This is elegant stuff and that's important.

Get the medallions of even size. This is elegant stuff and that’s important.

Clean and slice the spring onions on the diagonal. This gives a very recherché appearance to the humble vegetable. Then slice the ginger and garlic into matchstick size shreds (small, elegant, matchsticks).

The garlic and ginger need to be sliced pretty small, like in the picture.

The garlic and ginger need to be sliced pretty small, like in the picture.

Place the monkfish medallions on a dinner plate and sprinkle it with the spring onions, ginger and garlic.

Ornate in its simplicity. We are going for style as well as substance.

Ornate in its simplicity. We are going for style as well as substance.

Next, bring some water to boil in the bottom of a large saucepan (big enough to hold the dinner plate). Place a trivet in the bottom or use something else to keep the plate above the level of the water. I used my trusty wok and a small bowl.

No need to show this bit to your sophisticate guests. They might not understand.

No need to show this bit to your sophisticate guests. They might not understand.

Gently place the plate of deliciousness on top of the trivet and cover to steam.

Once the lid goes on, the fish will take only 5 minutes to become perfectly cooked.

Once the lid goes on, the fish will take only 5 minutes to become perfectly cooked.

Side note on fresh fish: If one uses really fresh fish, it will not smell of fish. If the fish smells of fish, it has begun to go off. It may well be safe to eat but, it will not be top class. For the sake of your reputation, buy fresh fish!

After 5 minutes, remove the lid and sprinkle over the soy sauce and the few drops of chili oil.

Don't overdo the chili oil! This is refined, not populist.

Don’t overdo the chili oil! This is refined, not populist.

Arrange half of the fish and aromatics on a dinner plate. Spoon over some of the plate sauce. Serve with a delicate bowl of steamed rice.

Easy, elegant and totally delicious. They will be impressed.

Easy, elegant and totally delicious. They will be impressed.

Choose a moment when the sophisticates at the table are not looking and spoon the remaining plate juices into your rice bowl. It’s too tasty to waste.

This takes little or no time to prepare and is really delicious. Your more cultivated friends will think more of you. Who knows, they may even elevate you into their social circle. You belong there, don’t you?

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Latest comments
  • Elegant indeed and beautifully served – you make me want to rush out and buy monkfish. Is that fishmonger still on the harbour in Howth?

    • There are a couple of them there. The fish can’t be fresher. However, it’s a long haul around the bay for me. I am well served by our local shop George’s Fish Shop. Freshness is key (Or should that be quay?).

      • There used to be a really good one on the walk down from the city centre to Ballsbridge, can’t remember what it was called.

        • Mulloy’s on Baggot Street. Long gone now. They sold game in season too. I loved seeing the pheasant hanging in the window. Not that the pheasant were too impressed, I’m sure.

          • Shame. The best Dublin Bay prawns I ever ate.

          • Plenty of them available, if you have the budget. That tends to be the problem.

  • I’ve only cooked monkfish once. Great texture and taste

    • It is one of the meatiest fish. It is really easy to over-cook and turns to leather if one does. My mantra is buy fresh and you can get away with going under.

  • Conor I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years, love your photos and writing. This time I feel moved the comment. The opening pics are gorgeous!! I frequently steam a whole fish with ginger and spring onion, in Australia, a snapper or barramundi, no monkfish here, boo hoo!!

    • Hi Sandra,
      Great to hear from ‘down under’. You are very kind in your comments and I really appreciate that. I think it’s fair to say that you have a decent range of seafood. Both you and I know there is more to Australian cuisine than “throw a shrimp on the barbie’. Thanks again for the nice thoughts.

    • I’m with her, Conor, I love your photos and writing too. I know you’ve probably mentioned it before, but what sort of camera are you using? I wanna be like you if I grow up! Or at least take pictures like you!

      Take care, Mate!

      • You are far too kind in this. I use a Canon 5D Mk11. I usually shoot the food with a fixed 50mm 1.8 lens (an inexpensive but excellent little lens). It’s funny but I find it almost impossible to see the good in my shots. Perhaps it’s because I can see what’s wrong with them and focus (pun intended) on the negative (pun again) too much.

        Either that or I need to get over myself, as the expression goes.
        Thanks for the niceness. I need all I can get,

  • I agree with Ladyredspecs. Failing monkfish, barramundi, or here in the tropics, coral trout (not a trout at all, of course).

    • Two treats in store for me, barramundi and coral trout. Never tasted either. Thinking about you Kate and I wonder if you could manage a quilt made out of fish shapes. IT could be pretty cool indeed.

      • I have just that very thing pinned on my Pinterest board. One day, I shall make it…

  • Stunning Conor! You make it look so simple.

    • Donna, This one really is just as simple as it looks. Try it and you will see….

  • I’m so gonna make this

    • Hi Mona,
      Plenty of great fishmongers over there in Galway. The monk is pretty plentiful at present too. I hope all is tops with you.

  • I love monkfish and I bet that was delicious 😉

    • We both know it was MD. Really tasty and healthy too!

  • Ginger/Garlic/Scallion. The trifecta!
    I keep wanting to steam more, and I just never get around to it (also, it’s summer). I don’t know what a good substitute would be for monkfish, but I have made frozen barramundi before and it was deeelish.

    • There are a couple of comments above suggesting the barramundi would work well. Never had it so I can’t make a big fat recommendation.

  • Ugh, this makes me wish that it was possible to get fresh fish here regularly! Alas, I am very landlocked.

    • Sorry Amanda, I will try to post some meat stuff next.

  • Well I’m not an elegant creature and I have no discernible standards, but i do like the way you prepared that monkfish. (But then I also like sweet and sour chicken balls).

    • You are a mess of conflict my man. Do decide about which side you want to be. Staying on the standards fence can be painful.

  • This takes me back Conor. I haven’t seen or served monkfish since I worked at the National Theatre in London in 98. We have loads of great fish in Oz but nothing really to match that flavour and meatiness. Groper leaps to mind. Barramundi is too soft. Thanks for your delish, fish dish.

  • ye little civil, Conor…..you could come with a wealth warning……I now HAVE to buy monkfish and try this recipe out….😊

  • Hah…I meant divil…

  • Oh Conor: why do I believe you were laughing your head off picking every word in this post 🙂 !! That said: I truly do think that steaming a fish ‘Chinese style’ is paying homage to the raw material . . . incredibly tasty and healthy besides. I normally use the method for whole fish and possess steamers both metal and wood to ‘do the deed’. Most fish available can be so prepared . . . yours looks quite, quite moreish of course !! If you have one of those metal ‘opening-flower’ ones you can use a big and shallow pot and fit a whole fish in: no problems !! Oh, we were way past the ‘throw a shrimp on the barbie’ ad when it first came on the world screens!!!!!

    • I haven’t used my wooden steamers in ages. They interior is almost a perfect fit for my dinner sized plates making them poor for steaming. I must sort something as they photograph so well. If I thought ye were still shrimp throwing, I would not have mentioned it.

  • I might have asked you this before, but forgive my failing braincells. Coming from USA PNW stateside, what fish would most closely resemble a monkfish in both taste and texture? Like a Halibut or Lingcod? Or more like a coldwater Sea Bass? Curious minds want to know.

    • Kathryn,
      I suspect a lingcod, more from what I have read than any personal experience. However, this will work with any firm fleshed white fish. The key is to get the steaming time right.

  • Very easy indeed, as well as delicious. Not to mention a cleverly written post. I like the idea of steaming the fish on a plate, so the juices won’t leak away. A sous-vide version would be nice…

    • It was simplicity itself. I haven’t given the sous vide treatment to monkfish yet. I must give it a go.

  • No better use of the “Holy Trinity” of garlic, ginger and spring onion than with fresh fish/seafood in my opinion Conor. Great stuff. Another one the eye for the local takeaway….

    • If I am competing with the “grease bottomed bag” I should really give up. In truth, they are an easy target and I should raise my standards. I just can’t help myself!

  • Conor ‘Jackie Chan’ Bofin……dont know how PC that is but I reckon you get the sentiment – great looking dish – takes a delicate hand to do that boyo!

    • Anybody who is looking for offence will find it wherever. I remember in the old Fu Manchu movies the very British police would call him a “wily Oriental”. I “Chan” handle the backhanded compliment.

  • I usually lean toward the populist, but you’ve made me see the benefit of refined. 🙂

    • We both know you are a refined creature Michelle.

  • Magnificent. I had no idea you could steam that way, so I have to try. I’ll get on it as soon as I digest next door.

  • I need to figure out now where to get monkfish. Last time I ate it was 30 years ago and my sister and I grilled it over a hibachi. Lovely flavors in your dish Conor!

    • Thanks Barb. I have s very special monkfish dish coming very soon.

      • I am looking forward to seeing this post!

  • Conor, have you changed blogs? I am not receiving your new posts. I found this on Facebook. Lovely, by the way

      • via email

      • I finally found where to subscribe! Sometimes it’s a challenging thing to want to follow a blog!!

          • nooooo! I want out of the bin!

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