After the eat/drink fest that was our weekend in San Francisco, we came back home needing something, anything, lighter. Who better to consult than Mark Bittman, whose "Minimalist" column in the New York Times almost always delivers clean, flavorful, and easy to prepare dishes. I saw this fish recipe a couple of weeks ago, and couldn't wait to get cooking.
Bittman used monkfish in his recipe, but he said you could also sub any other firm fleshed fish (he suggested red snapper or sea bass). Here in p.c. Portland, monkfish is a little hard to come by. I stopped by Trader Joe's to check out their selection, and they had packages of frozen wild caught mahi-mahi filets. They were the perfect size, and turned out wonderfully. The fish really picked up an infusion of thyme and garlic flavor during the quick oven roast. Next time through, I think I'll try red snapper, something a little less firm, as in his recipe description Bittman said part of the appeal of the preparation is how the fish melds with the mashers, turning into sort of a soft fishcake. Whatever you use, this was really satisfying on every level. And it was super easy to prepare, and very much worth the minimal(ist) effort expended!
Monkfish With Mashed Potatoes and Thyme
from The New York Times/Mark Bittman
Time: 30 minutes
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk, or as needed
Several sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3or 4 cloves crushed garlic
1 1/2 pounds monkfish, in 1 or 2 pieces, trimmed.
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put potatoes in a saucepan with water to cover. Add a large pinch of salt. Cook potatoes until quite tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and put through a ricer or food mill, or mash with a fork or potato masher. Add butter, milk, a few thyme leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm in the oven or reheat in a microwave when ready to serve.
2. While potatoes cook, or immediately after they are done, put an ovenproof skillet large enough to accommodate monkfish over medium-high heat. After a minute, add the oil, garlic, a couple of thyme sprigs and then fillets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for about a minute, then without turning, transfer to oven.
3. Roast until monkfish is cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes depending on its thickness. (It will be tender but still firm when done; a thin-bladed knife will meet consistent light resistance when inserted in its center.) Reheat potatoes if necessary, then serve monkfish browned side up on top of them, garnished with a little more thyme and pan juices.
*note: we served some quick sautéed rainbow chard on the side.