Sitting under grey skies in rain-sodden Suffolk I'm wishing I was back in west Cork ... but it's probably pouring there as well. Ah well, I have something special to remind me of the Irish seaside ... a lovely piece of monkfish.
No, I didn't bring it back with me, it'd be ponging to high heaven by now. I bought some at Skibbereen market when I was in Ireland and reprised the recipe back home, as I wasn't entirely happy with my original timings.
I did bring back some very thinly sliced smoked, dry-cure bacon from Ummera Smokehouse to wrap it, but if you really want to push the boat out (monkfish is expensive in itself) you can use Parma ham. Pancetta would work too. I tied my parcel as it was looking a bit baggy, but it's not necessary if you can get a good, tight wrap.
Around 300g of monkfish (one generous fillet) will serve two people; 400-500g (one tail, cut into two fillets either side of the bone) will serve 4.
Monkfish Wrapped in Bacon (serves 4)
1 monkfish tail, about 400-500g, cut into two fillets
Small bunch of parsley, leaves picked
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
10-12 rashers of thinly sliced, dry cure smoked bacon
Oil, for frying
For the garnish/side:
Small splash of oil
2 small courgettes, diced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
5 or 6 firm medium tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and diced
About 6-8 basil leaves
Make sure all the membrane is removed from the monkfish, then lay the two fillets together, thin end to thick end, so they.'re roughly the same thickness all the way along. (If you only have one fillet, tuck the thin end underneath, so it doesn't overcook.) Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Chop the parsley finely and mix in the lemon zest. Place in a thick line on a board and roll the monkfish in the mixture to coat both sides.
Remove any rind from the bacon and lay out the rashers, overlapping slightly, in a rectangle big enough to enclose the fish. Put the fish near the bottom edge and roll up tightly.
Secure with cocktail sticks or string if yours, like mine, is a bit scruffy and the bacon isn't staying put. Cover and allow to sit for half an hour, refrigerating it if you're not cooking it straight away. Let it come back to room temperature before you start to cook, about 20 minutes in a warm kitchen.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in an oven-proof pan and sear the monkfish for 3-4 minutes, turning, until golden.
Place in the oven, untidy side underneath, and roast for 10-12 minutes, until cooked through but still juicy. If you're not sure it's done, a skewer inserted into the centre of the fish should come out warm.
Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes while you heat a splash of oil in a pan. Add the courgettes and garlic and fry briefly until tinged with gold and just barely cooked (don't burn the garlic), then tip in the diced tomatoes and toss until warmed through. Shred the basil leaves, stir them in off the heat, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Using a sharp knife, slice the fish into thick medallions. Served on warmed plates, spooning around some of the courgette and tomato concasse.