Et Tu, American Goosefish? Blackened Monkfish Caesar Salad Recipe

Blackened Monkfish Caesar Salad from Stephanie Villani's "The Fisherman's Wife" cookbook
Blackened Monkfish Caesar Salad from Stephanie Villani's "The Fisherman's Wife" cookbook, Photo: Kevin Bay

Since Breakwater Media released The Fisherman’s Wife, Sustainable Recipes and Salty Stories by the wife of a commercial fisherman, Mattituck’s Stephanie Villani, the cookbook has enjoyed wide acclaim. Its no-nonsense recipes really work. Why not try this one this weekend?

And then come to hear Villani speak at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton on Thursday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m., and buy your own copy. She’s bringing samples of her famous smoked fish dip… Reservations for this free event are required at 631-283-0774 ext. 523.

Blackened Monkfish Caesar Salad
Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish or 6 as an appetizer

Blackening fish will create a crispy, spicy crust around the fish while keeping the insides deliciously moist. Be forewarned, this will smoke up your kitchen, but it’s worth it!

Any thick fillet is appropriate for this cooking method, including tilefish, sea trout and blackfish. Make sure that the fillets aren’t more than 3/4 inch thick, preferably keeping them to 1/2-inch thickness.

1 pound of monkfish fillet, membrane removed and cut into 1/2-inch thick medallions

3/4 pound unsalted butter (3 sticks), melted

Seasoning mix:
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 to 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

For the Salad:
12 to 16 ounces salad greens
12 to 16 croutons
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Caesar dressing

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat for at least 10 minutes. Keep heating past the smoking stage until you start to see an ashy white color develop in the skillet (the skillet can’t be too hot for this dish).

Thoroughly combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl.

Using tongs, dip the monkfish medallions in the melted butter so they are completely coated, then dredge them in the seasoning mix, patting the spices on generously with your hands.

When they are coated, place as many of them as you can into the hot un-oiled skillet, being careful not to crowd the pan.

Pour half of the remaining melted butter over the fish (caution: the butter may flame up momentarily and there will be smoke).

Cook them uncovered over the same high heat until the undersides look charred, about 2 to 3 minutes (the time will vary based on the fish’s thickness and the heat of the skillet).

Turn the medallions over and again pour butter on top. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with any remaining medallions.

Toss the salad greens and croutons with the parmesan cheese and the dressing. Plate the salad, then add the blackened monk.

Recipe and image from The Fisherman’s Wife, copyright 2017, reprinted with permission of Stephanie Villani and Kevin Bay. The Fisherman’s Wife is available now from your local bookstore, including Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor and Burton’s Book Store in Greenport.

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