Monkfish, cedar and basque whisky

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This beautiful monkfish dish from Elena Arzak uses monkfish in four different ways - the monkfish liver is used in a mojo sauce, and as a marinade for monkfish loin, thin slivers of Basque whiskey and cedar-smoked monkfish are shaved into paper thin circles, and the skins are deep fried into crisps. It’s served alongside a crunchy spinach pasta tile and an airy avocado meringue. In the restaurant, Chef Arzak crimps the spinach pasta with corrugated metal sheets in the deep fryer, but they can also be fried straight.

First published in 2022
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Monkfish liver mojo sauce

Monkfish Loin

Monkfish Circles

Monkfish skin crisps

Whiskey sauce

Avocado meringue

Spinach tile

  • 120g of spinach
  • 1 medium egg
  • 100g of water
  • 300g of plain flour
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6g of salt
  • vegetable oil, for frying


  • Thermomix
  • Pasta machine
  • Smoker



Clean the monkfish livers well, and chop into small pieces


Sauté the monkfish livers in a pan. Once they have turned golden, add the poached spring onion. Sauté well and flambé with the brandy


Using a mortar and pestle, pound all the remaining ingredients


Once this is done, add the cooked liver and spring onion mixture to the mortar and mash again


Place a pan on the heat and add a little oil. Transfer the mixture from the mortar and pestle to the hot pan, and sauté. Season with salt and pepper


Pass the mixture through a fine sieve, so that it becomes creamy. Set aside


For the mojo monkfish, cover the four pieces of monkfish loin in salt for 3 minutes


Wash off the salt with cold water. Dry thoroughly


Spread the loins with the monkfish liver mojo sauce


Cook the monkfish on a plancha (cast iron griddle pan)


For the monkfish circles, drain the whiskey-soaked wood chips and add them to a smoker

  • 250ml of brandy, mixed with the cedar wood chops, for smoking the monkfish circles

Cover the monkfish with coarse sea salt for 7 minutes


Remove the salt, using a damp cloth, and dry the fish well


Smoke the monkfish with the whiskey-soaked cedar wood for 7 minutes


Shape into a cylinder using cling film, and freeze until solid. This will be sliced into thin circles just before serving


For the monkfish skin crisps, place the water, monkfish skin, leek, onion and salt in a pan. Cook over a medium heat for 90 minutes, then blend. Strain out the liquid


Place the mixture into square moulds and freeze until sold


Slice the frozen monkfish skin mixture into 5mm slices. Pat dry


Deep fry the monkfish skins for just a few seconds. Season with salt and set aside

  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • salt

For the whiskey sauce, bring the sun-dried tomatoes, butter, chicken stock, whiskey, sake, sugar, orange zest and some salt and pepper to a simmer


Blend the mixture together and then strain. Season to taste


For the avocado meringue, mix the avocado, lemon juice, olive oil and salt in the Thermomix until you get a smooth paste. Strain


Fold the avocado paste into the meringue. Set aside


For the spinach tile, mix the spinach together with the egg in the Thermomix


Add the water, plain flour, olive oil and salt and mix again

  • 100g of water
  • 300g of plain flour
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6g of salt

Next, knead the mixture in a bowl until it does not stick to your hands. Let it rest, covered, for 30 minutes


Roll out the dough in a pasta machine until you reach the thinnest setting


Cut into 10x7cm squares, and deep fry until crisp. Set aside

  • vegetable oil, for frying

To serve, first thinly slice the frozen monkfish circles. Place the monkfish circles in the middle of the plate, and top with the avocado meringue


Dress the mojo-marinated monkfish with extra sauce and place it to one side of the plate. Lean a spinach pasta crisp against it. Dot remaining sauce next to the fish


Break up the fried monkfish skins and arrange on the other side of the plate

First published in 2022

The third generation of Arzaks to run the eponymous restaurant, Elena Arzak has maintained the three Michelin stars awarded to the restaurant back in 1989 and kept the Arzak name at the top table of the restaurant world.

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