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.
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.
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.
Slice the monkfish, across the grain, into medallions.
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.
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.
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.
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….