Thursday, March 17, 2011

Roasted Monkfish with Tomato Olive and Caper Sauce

The robust combination of plum tomatoes, dry-cured black olives, pungent garlic, tangy capers and hot chili paste, makes this an intense full-flavoured Mediterranean sauce. Not for the faint hearted, the power packed marriage of classic Italian ingredients and red hot chilies makes this lusty recipe devilishly good, and perfect on a firm fleshy fish like monkfish, cod or swordfish. 

The sauce will thicken and become more robust as it reduces

Monkfish is a lovely meaty fish, but it does release a lot of moisture while it cooks. Seasoning the fish with some salt an hour before cooking, will draw out any excess moisture. I like to sauté the fish first in a little olive oil to sear the outside, and then braise the monkfish with lots of Spicy Tomato Olive and Caper Sauce poured on top, which gives the fish an incredible boost of flavour. Before serving, top with another big dollop of warm sauce, a sprig of fresh thyme and you have a delicious low fat dinner with molto gusto.

Roast monkfish with spicy tomato olive & caper sauce

Roasted Monkfish with Spicy Tomato Olive and Caper Sauce
Serves 2

The Sauce: makes 2 1/2 cups

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
½ cup dry cured black olives, pitted and chopped
¼ cup capers
1 (28 oz.) can diced plum tomatoes, with juice
2 tsp Sambal Oelek chili paste
½ cup red wine
fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

The Monkfish:

1 Monkfish tail
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

For the sauce, heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped olives and capers and mix to combine. Then add chopped tomatoes, thyme and chili paste, and cook about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the red wine and season with some fresh ground black pepper, and continue to stir for a few more minutes. Cover the pan and turn it to low. Allow the sauce to bubble away for about 10-15 minutes, during which time it will start to reduce and become darker, thicker and more robust in flavour. Once the sauce is ready, keep it warm until ready to use. Once cooled, it also freezes very well.

Salt the monkfish and let it rest on paper towels 1 hour prior to cooking, then pat dry before cooking. This will help release some of the excess moisture.

In a large skillet, warm some olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the monkfish with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, add the monkfish and sear it on each side for about 4-6 minutes, until lightly browned. Then add 1 cup of the Tomato Olive Caper Sauce, cover and cook on low heat for 35-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. The monkfish is done when it flakes easily and the centre is opaque.

Remove the fish from the pan and carefully slice the filet into 1-inch medallions and divide between each serving plate. Spoon some of the extra sauce over the fish and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

COOK'S NOTE: Keep in mind, this tomato sauce can be adapted to many other uses, like over some pasta with fresh grated Pecorino, or over warmed Cannellini beans. Great flavor and low fat! Buon appetito.

Cannellini Beans in an Olive-Tomato-Caper Sauce

1 14 oz. can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large leaves of basil, juilienned
pepper to taste
2 cups of Tomato Olive Caper Sauce

Drain and rinse the beans. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a skillet. Add the sliced garlic and saute until brown. Add the tomato sauce and cook for 4 minutes. Add the beans and cook until warmed through. Add the basil and turn off the heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.