Monkfish in a Saffron and Caper Sauce

Last Friday was Tall’s birthday, and earlier in the week, I asked whether he’d prefer going out for dinner, getting takeaways, or having me cook him something fancy. He opted for the third option, and gave me a big verbal pat-on-the-back by saying, “Well, any of them will mean good food…”

I settled on a fancy-sounding fish dish (he luuuurves fish), followed by a fancy-sounding-but-simple-looking pear dessert; when the day came, he decided to stay for a few after-work drinks, and chowed down on steak sandwiches and pizzas along with the beers. He decided my fancy-pants meal would probably be wasted on him, so that night we had a Spanish tortilla (potatoes, onion, cheese and egg), saving the fish dish until the following evening. I did make the fancy-schmancy pear dessert though, and will be making it again, oh, asap!

The fish dish was every bit as delicious as I’d hoped, and while the ingredients sound rather rich and decadent, the flavours were incredibly light and fresh. I can imagine this paired with a cool, crisp sauv blanc or even a fruitier pinot gris in the middle of summer – yum!

(Apologies for the soft-focus-late-80s photos – was using the old point-and-shoot…never again!)

Monkfish in a Saffron and Caper Sauce – serves 6

50g butter
300g shallots, thinly sliced (I couldn’t find shallots anywhere, so used one normal onion)
500ml white wine
1L fish stock
500ml cream (double, if you can find it; normal if you can’t!)
2 large pinches of saffron
1t caster sugar
50ml lemon juice

600-700g monkfish, cut into bite-sized pieces
25g capers
1T fresh basil, torn

Cooked spaghetti
3 plum tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped (I used a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved)

Melt half the first measure of butter in a large pan and gently fry the shallots for 3-4 minutes, until semi-soft.

Pour in the wine, turn up the heat and reduce by two-thirds (5-10 minutes).

Add the stock and reduce by another two-thirds (15-20 minutes), skimming off any scum that rises to the surface*. Keep the sides of the pan as clean as possible to avoid the sauce turning brown.

Pour in the cream and saffron and reduce to half the volume (20-25 minutes); remove from the heat.

Pour the sauce into a blender and add the sugar and lemon juice; season to taste with salt. Add the remaining half of butter and blend for 1 minutes.

Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean, large frying pan. Bring to a simmer over a low heat.

Season the monkfish and poach them in the sauce until cooked through, approximately 6-8 minutes. Stir in the capers and basil.

Serve with cooked spaghetti, with the chopped tomatoes scattered over the top.

*I used store-bought stock, and didn’t really notice any “scum”, but you possibly would if using homemade fish stock??

Recipe: Tom Aikens, ‘Market Kitchen Cookbook’


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