I can’t stress often enough you will really taste the difference if you buy your fish fresh from a fish merchant. It is that simple with fish. Remember, too, how delicate the flesh is, so don’t overcook fish; monkfish is a meaty fish and, therefore, dries out quickly. The pancetta needs to be very thinly sliced and, if possible, a touch longer than normal so you can overlap the slices when wrapping the fish.
– PREPARATION TIME 20 minutes.
– COOKING TIME 1 hour 20 minutes.
– 4 monkfish fillets, about 5 ounces each, trimmed.
– 20 thin slices pancetta.
– 1½ cups peeled and thickly sliced carrots.
– 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed mandarin juice.
– 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised.
– grated zest of 1 lime.
– 2 tablespoons olive oil.
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter.
– a few cilantro leaves.
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer, with a steamer insert on top. Put the carrots in the steamer, cover and cook at least 1 hour until super soft.
Step 3: While the carrots are steaming, put the mandarin juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the lemongrass and half the lime zest and bring to a slow boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer about 15 minutes until the liquid reduces by two-thirds and is syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and keep the juice warm.
Step 4: Remove the carrots from the steamer and pat dry with a clean dish towel. Put them in a blender, then strain in the reduced mandarin juice, discarding the lemongrass, and blend to a smooth, soft puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then leave to one side to keep warm.
Step 5: Now put the monkfish in the steamer, cover and cook over very low heat 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the steamer, then cut away and discard the plastic wrap. Put the monkfish onto a clean dish towel to absorb any of the liquid released while cooking.
Step 6: Heat half the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the monkfish and cook 3 to 4 minutes until the pancetta is crisp and golden brown on all sides. Remove the fish from the pan and leave to rest on paper towels.
Step 7: Gently reheat the puree until hot, then whisk in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut each piece of monkfish in half on the diagonal— if it’s cooked properly, you will see a tiny rainbow on the flesh of the fish. Sprinkle the monkfish with the cilantro, the remaining lime zest and oil, then serve warm with the puree.