I’m lucky when it comes to seafood. Spencer of Spen’s Fish will deliver to my door and my friend Mike Warner of A Passion For Seafood does pop-up sales at a local farm shop every Friday. I’m spoilt for choice, which is fortunate because I went through a lot of fish this week testing what is actually a very simple dish.
It is monkfish with a dressing based on Sicily’s salmoriglia, but using Seville orange juice instead of lemon. Sevilles are such a seasonal treat it seems silly not to. It’s essentially a punchy vinaigrette which acts here as both marinade, glaze and sauce.
It’s adapted with permission from a recipe by the lovely Rachel Roddy. She suggests either swordfish or cernia, which I think translates as grouper. In the UK, monkfish or halibut, while differently flavoured, are similarly meaty. Rachel gives a vegan/vegetarian alternative so do please check out her recipe, which also comes with a flying tortoise.
I served our monkfish on a bed of warm roasted peppers (highly recommended) with a side of red chicory and blood orange salad, slicked with the same salmoriglia-style dressing. The sweet oranges are a good contrast to the bitter Seville flavours, but a simple watercress salad works too.
Add some crusty bread, if you like, to mop up the juices.
Monkfish with Seville Dressing
2 thick pieces of monkfish fillet, about 400g total
1 tspn olive oil
For the dressing:
60ml Seville orange juice (about 2 Sevilles)
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
A pinch of salt
A grind of pepper
A good pinch of dried oregano (to taste: I used about 3/4 of a tspn)
A pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
1 heaped tbsp parsley, chopped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Make the dressing: tip everything into a jar, screw the lid on tightly and give it a good shake. You might like to start with a smaller quantity of oregano, let the dressing sit for a while, then taste and adjust. Please note this is not the time to be using dried oregano you’ve had at the back of your cupboard for five years. If it smells like the inside of Miss Havisham’s wardrobe, chuck it out and use fresh oregano or marjoram.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Place the two monkfish fillets in a bowl, pour over three tablespoons of the dressing, cover and marinate for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.
Put an oven-proof, non-stick pan on a medium-high heat and add a teaspoon of olive oil to just cover the base. Place the monkfish in the pan, reserving the marinade, and colour briefly, about two minutes per side. Roast in the oven for 6-8 minutes, depending on how thick the fillets are.
Remove from the oven, place back on the hob on a medium heat and pour in the reserved marinade. As it bubbles up, quickly baste the fish. As it thickens and reduces it will glaze and colour the fillets. Remove to a heated plate and leave to rest somewhere warm for 5-10 minutes while you finish your side dish/es.
Plate up and pour more fresh dressing over, or serve on the side for people to help themselves while the fish is still warm. The heat of the food, as Rachel says, wakes up the flavours of the sauce.
NB: I ran out of fresh peppers when I was testing the final version of this recipe, as pictured. I used bottled roasted red peppers, cut into strips, and a handful of halved, small, picante peppers (such as Pepadew). They only need to be re-heated in some of their bottling liquor or tossed in a scrap of oil. If using picante peppers, you might want to leave the chilli flakes out of the dressing.
If using fresh peppers, de-seed, halve and roast until slightly charred before cutting into strips. Re-heat before serving.
Any leftover dressing can be stored in the fridge and used for salads etc.