Identification & Biology: A large (up to 50 lbs.), fleshy, sand-colored fish with a huge head and oversized mouth; not a beauty-pageant winner. By twitching a long filament that protrudes from the head, the monkfish lures shellfish and other prey to satiate its enormous appetite.
Market Description: Only the tail end of the fish is edible; this portion is usually skinned and filleted. The tender, flaky white flesh is low in fat, firm in texture, and has a very sweet, delicate, lobster like flavor.
Habitat: North Atlantic from Maine to N.C.
Flavor Profile: meaty, firm, scallop like texture
Fishing Technique: long line
Special Note: Deep-water bottom feeder
Suitable Sub: N/A
Sold as: Skinned fillets (usually deboned); Whole specimens are less common
Buying tips: Look for moist white fillets that glisten and are sweet-smelling. If the thin gray membrane has been left intact over the meat, you may want to ask your fishmonger to remove it before purchasing.
Substitutes: Blackfish, carp, cod, grouper, haddock, pollock, red snapper, tilefish, wolf fish
Notes: Monkfish is not as popular in the US as it is in Europe, where it is considered a delicacy.
Recommended Preparation: The versatile monkfish is lovely grilled, poached, roasted, baked, and sautéed. It can also be cut into strips or chunks and deep-fried in the style of tempura.
Note: A thin gray membrane covers the tail meat; if your fishmonger has left the membrane intact, peel or cut it off before cooking.