Monkfish and Black Beans – Ugly, But Tasty.

This little delight might just as well be titled “Mantis Prawn V Monkfish – The battle of the uglies.” In truth, I had intended doing Mantis Prawns and Black Beans”. Never having cooked the crusty, ugly little crustaceans before, I didn’t reckon on them being so difficult to cook. The cooking bit is pretty easy (boil the blighters). But, getting the meat out of the shells proved to be impossible. 

Mantis Shrimp

Ugly and difficult. The Mantis Shrimp proved to be too much for me.

I abandoned the mantis shrimp to the bin and substituted some delicious fresh monkfish. In the wild, the monk is about as ugly as the mantis shrimp but a lot less trouble when it comes to cooking.

Monkfish with Black Beans

Ingredients (for two)

  • 400 grammes of fresh monkfish tail, trimmed and looking good
  • 1 red chilli
  • 3 cm of ginger root
  • 1 clove of good garlic
  • 2 small onions
  • Half a tablespoon of fermented black beans
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch)

Soak the black beans in hot water to reconstitute them and to remove some of the saltiness. Cut the onion into quarters. Cut the ginger up nice and fine. Slice the chilli.

Monkfish with Black Beans

A prep shot that shows how to slice the chilli. It’s nicer for presentation this way.

Slice the monkfish, across the grain, into medallions.

Monkfish with Black Beans (4 of 11)

This picture gives a good idea of how fresh that monk was.

Drain the black beans and gently squeeze them with the back of a teaspoon. We want to soften them up , but keep most of them intact.

Monkfish with Black Beans

Put a gentle squeeze on the black beans.

Heat a wok. Dust the monkfish in the cornflour. Add a little oil to the wok. When it starts to smoke, add the onions. Fry for a couple of minutes, stirring then remove and reserve. Then add the ginger and garlic. Stir. As soon as the aromas start to rise from the wok (30 seconds) add the dusted monkfish and stir. The fish will be cooked very quickly so add the black beans, soy, pepper and the salt (if using). Stir. The soy will thicken on the black bean dusting of cornflour.

Monkfish with Black Beans (7 of 11)

Move fast at this stage. Don’t over cook the fish.

Add back the onions and add in the chilli. Turn off the heat and serve with Thai fragrant rice. I’ll have another go at the ugly Mantis Shrimp another time. For now, the monkfish is the real winner here.

Monkfish with Black Beans

Ugly as sin in the sea, but delicious in the bowl. Monkfish with Black Beans.

Footnote on the ugly Mantis Shrimp: We don’t see them here in Ireland too often. Next time I do, I guarantee I will make something decent out of them. For now, enjoy the monkfish….

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Latest comments
  • Yup, those little buggers are definitely very, very ugly. Monkfish is ugly too, but it’s all a bit academic here, as we can’t get it.
    On the other hand, the Husband and I had a dozen large meaty local banana prawns each, melted garlic butter for dipping, brown bread and butter and thick juicy slices of locally grown truss tomatoes. Oh, and a pineapple grown a kilometre away topped with home made Greek yoghurt. Holidays are hell….

  • The reason we’re seeing so many ugly fish in the markets and on restaurant menus is because the good-looking fish have all been over-fished and are now scarce. Of course, where fish are concerned, “good looking” is relative. And that relative is their mother.

  • If you have an appetite for Indian foods, you may try out steamed prawn in coconut milk/mustard paste gravy. That tastes delicious.

  • Looks good Conor, and I don’t even like black beans. I’ve noticed that the monkfish you use in your recipes looks much whiter than the monks we get over here in New England. Ours usually have a more pinkish hue.

  • This is a great looking dish. Monkfish is a great fish and this is the kind of recipe I like it in. Now the question is, will our fish monger have any monkfish tomorrow. If not, perhaps a pieces of fresh cod will have to do.

  • Ugh was the mantis prawn past its shelf-life? Never seen one but sometimes the best flesh comes from the ugliest. Ling cod is one of my favorite fishes to eat (and catch!) but damn are they ugly. Great save with the monkfish. Plus easy too.

  • I always peel prawns or shrimp when they’re raw — the meat comes out much easier than when they’re cooked. I take the tails off as well — besides getting rid of that last bit of vein that’s hiding in the tail, it keeps fastidious guests from wasting the last inch of delicious meat because they don’t want to fiddle with sauce-covered food (or they don’t know how to get it out of the tail). Can’t wait to try the monkfish recipe! 🙂

  • I’m not very fond of cleaning monkfish, but for such wonderful dish I may reconsider. Love the flavors you have here.

  • Ugly is in the eye (and bowl) of the beholder. This dish looks beautiful and a great save!

  • Conor, as I’ve said before: it is quite frustrating to get better Asian recipes from Ireland than I have on file here ! Just checked: no fermented black beans left in the fridge . . .oh there will be some in a day-or-two!! This one I can taste and the taste is good! Will go to the top of the file methinks . . . . (off topic: UNO: A store in Sydney called ‘Fireworks Food’ has all the dried chilies for your last dish. DUE: Am still unpacking yesterday’s on-line monthly groceries: often a few ‘trial’ gifts are included – guess what: got a 250 gm pack of IRISH butter! . . . . makes no sense., but laughingly accepted . . . )

  • Great dish. But the mantis? A face only a mother could love….

  • Creepy good I bet! 😉

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