Geoffrey Smeddle adds extra depth and flavour to this monkfish recipe by curing and smoking the fish before serving with a lemon and herb cauliflower couscous and rich oyster mousse. Cauliflower florets have a similar texture to couscous, so make a fantastic healthy alternative in this recipe. If unsure, ask your fishmonger to help prepare the monkfish loins for this recipe.
Geoffrey Smeddle, proprietor and chef of The Peat Inn in Fife, started his career working for Herbert Berger at The Café Royal and for Christopher Galvin in London. He then sealed his reputation as one of Scotland’s top chefs by opening Terence Conran's Etain, in Glasgow.
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Prepare the monkfish by carefully cutting the 2 loins away from the bone. Remove the skin and bloodlines and use tweezers to remove the line of cartilage that runs the length of the bloodline
1 monkfish tail, about 1.5–2kg on the bone
Spread a third of the sea salt over a large tray and lay the loins on top, making sure they don't touch each other. Cover with the remaining sea salt and allow to cure for 9 minutes. Rinse thoroughly under cold water then pat dry with a clean tea towel
300g of sea salt flakes
Wrap each loin tightly in cling film, securing each end to form a neat sausage shape. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours to firm up
While the monkfish chills, make the oyster mousse. Place a sieve over a bowl and open the oysters, placing the oysters into the bowl and pouring the juices through the sieve so they strain into the bowl as well. Discard the shells
Add the butter to a medium-sized pan and gently melt. Add the diced shallot and the tarragon stalks and sweat down in the butter without colouring. Add the wine, cook until the liquid has reduced by half then add the oysters and strained juices and cook through for 1 minute
30g of butter
1 banana shallot, peeled and diced
1 tbsp of tarragon, stalks only, roughly chopped
60ml of white wine
Add the milk and cream and bring the mixture almost to the boil before removing from the heat. Squeeze out any excess moisture from the gelatine leaves and stir into the warm mixture until fully dissolved. Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth
65ml of milk
65ml of cream
2 gelatine leaves, soaked in iced water
Pass the mousse through a fine sieve or chinois into a clean bowl and allow to cool. Once cold, transfer to an espuma gun with 1 gas charge, shaking thoroughly then chill until ready to serve
To make the cucumber balls, mix together the white wine vinegar, sugar, star anise and water in a small pan and heat through until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely
50ml of white wine vinegar
50g of sugar
1 star anise
100ml of water
Peel the cucumber then use a melon baller to scoop balls from the flesh. Add to the pickle and leave for 1 hour
For the cauliflower couscous, slice off the tops of the florets into a bowl – these should look like grains of couscous. Add a tablespoon of oil to a frying pan and gently fry the grains for a few minutes until tender. Season with sea salt and transfer to a bowl with the lemon zest and juice
1 small cauliflower, green outer leaves removed
1 tbsp of olive oil
sea salt flakes
1 lemon, zest and juice
Allow to chill completely then stir through the chopped herbs and a little more olive oil to taste. Chill until needed but allow to come to room temperature before serving
1 tsp chopped tarragon
1 tsp chopped chives
Once the monkfish has chilled, set up a stove-top smoker and heat until smoke is gathering in the chamber. Carefully cut away the cling film and set the shaped fish on a tray that will fit inside the smoking chamber
Move the smoker off the direct heat and working quickly, remove the lid from the smoker and place the tray inside the chamber, replacing the lid immediately to trap the smoke. Smoke for 4–6 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets, then remove from the smoker and chill at once. Once cold, wrap again in cling film to preserve the shape and leave to set in the fridge
When ready to serve, use a metal ring to form a circle of the cauliflower couscous on each plate. Carefully remove the cling film from the monkfish and slice into thin discs – you'll need about 6 discs per portion. Lay these directly over the couscous in an overlapping ring
Arrange the cucumber balls and radish slices around the circle and scatter with fresh dill fronds and baby leaves. Shake the espuma gun before using and add a squirt of the oyster mousse to each plate. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped chives
8 pink radishes, thinly sliced
fronds of fresh dill
baby salad leaves
2 tsp chopped chives
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