At the old port in Marseille you can find the local fishermen selling their catch unless the waters have been rough the night before, in which case only the bravest fisherman will venture out. Among the sardines, red mullet, sea bass, and John Dory, you’ll also find monkfish. These fish are truly ugly, and look like they live on the bottom of the sea, but despite their scary appearance, I love them for their firm texture and almost boneless meat. Most people eat the tail, which is the meatiest part of the fish, but I’m a firm believer in “nose-to-tail” eating, and monkfish cheeks are lovely little bone-free nuggets of flesh. Like the tail, they have a substantial meaty texture, which pairs excellently with this crunchy nutty crust. Serve with a bright plate of sunshine salad made from carrot, grapefruit, and radish.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
- Cooking Time: 10 Minutes
- ½ cup (50 g) breadcrumbs
- 1⅓ cups (150 g) finely chopped hazelnuts
- 8 monkfish cheeks
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 grapefruit, zested, fruit cut into segments
- 4 tbsp (50 g) melted butter
- Olive oil for frying
- 10 radishes, finely sliced
- ½ watermelon radish, finely sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled into ribbons
- 2 to 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine the breadcrumbs and hazelnuts in a medium nonstick pan over medium heat. Toast until golden.
- Season the monkfish with salt and pepper. Mix the grapefruit zest and melted butter into the toasted breadcrumb mixture.
- Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Place the monkfish cheeks in the pan and turn the heat to medium. Fry for 3 minutes, until golden, and then turn over and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked cheeks to a plate and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Toss the radishes, watermelon radish, grapefruit segments, and carrot with the extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with the monkfish cheeks.