Grilled Monkfish Medallions with Roasted Red Pepper Purée
Monkfish is a delicious fish that lends itself to many methods of cooking, but I found out the hard way that it must be prepared properly. For example, I saw a recipe in which the tails were cut on the diagonal, I suppose to make larger pieces than cutting into straight medallions. I tried that and it was a disaster. The resulting cooked fish was very tough, which took away from its delicate flavor. Maybe I just overcooked it or, perhaps, I cut on too sharp of an angle. In any case, I tried the recipe again using the medallions and it worked perfectly. This is the result. It is a quick, easy and healthy main dish for a family dinner or entertaining. The red pepper purée can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before serving. See the notes below for sustainability issues and alternate choices.
Red Pepper Purée
- 2 large red bell peppers, halved vertically, stem and seeds removed
- 4 large garlic cloves, lightly smashed and peeled
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus a little for drizzling the garlic
- 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
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- 2 monkfish tails, about 3/4 pound each, skin and membrane removed, cut across into about 1-1/2 inch thick medallions
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
Preheat broiler on high. Place the peppers, skin side up, on a baking sheet with shallow sides. Place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, and close tightly. Place on the baking sheet. Position the oven rack so that the peppers will be only a couple inches below the broiling element. Broil the peppers until well charred, about 10 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. Remove from oven and turn off the broiler. Return the garlic packet to the oven and close the door to soften more while the peppers rest. Cover the peppers with foil and let set about 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and cut into pieces. Place all of the ingredients, including the garlic but not the basil, into a mini processor or blender. Process, pulsing as needed, until puréed. Place in a small bowl and stir in the basil. Taste for seasoning. Set aside until needed.
Season the monkfish medallions with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush or spray with olive oil. Add the medallions and grill until lightly browned and done, about 3 minutes per side, adjusting the heat of the pan as needed. Serve immediately with a little red pepper purée on top or on the side.
Notes: When I first created this recipe, the fish markets in my area were starting to get monkfish in on a regular basis. Since then, monkfish have been placed on the list of fish to avoid because the method by which they are caught endangers other sea life. That status might change in the future. Catfish is a good substitute. The flavor and texture of the fish will be a little different, but the resulting dish will still be delicious.