Spring is here and heavy comfort food is so last season. All I’m craving is fish and veggies. Soon the outdoor farmer’s markets will have hearty leafy greens, ramps, asparagus, peas, fiddlehead ferns and more. This week’s recipe features the seasonal legume fava beans; spiced with chorizo and served with grilled monkfish, known as “poor man’s lobster,” because of its dense texture and sweet taste, as well as cauliflower puree – a healthier but just as satisfying alternative to mashed potatoes.
Before you get started, here are a few tips for grilling fish:
1. Always dry the filet before seasoning and avoid wet marinades to prevent sticking. Try using a spice rub instead or serve the fish with a flavorful sauce.
2. Coat the fish in oil before grilling. Some chefs like to oil the grill but I prefer the method of oiling the fish to avoid acrid smoke.
3. Preheat the grill or grill pan to medium-hot. Lukewarm grill grates will result in a poor sear or sticking and adversely a scorching hot grill will result in burnt fish and flare-ups.
4. Do not crowd the grill or grill pan. If fish is placed too close together they will steam and prevent a proper sear.
5. Do not play with your fish. Once you place the fish on the grill leave it to achieve an ideal sear and grill marks. After several minutes, use tongs and gently turn the fish over with ease. If the fish is still sticking, leave it for one more minute and try again.
6. Use the 10 minute per inch rule. Generally, a piece of fish that is 1-inch-thick will take a total of 10 minutes to cook, which means the fish should be cooked for 5 minutes on each side.
Monkfish with Chorizo Fava Beans and Cauliflower Puree
1½ pounds monkfish
3½ teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon coriander
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large head cauliflower
½ cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon white pepper
4 ounces smoked chorizo, diced very small
2 pounds fresh fava beans stripped from the pod, par boiled and shelled, or a 28 ounce package of frozen, shelled fava beans (broad beans)
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Cut the monkfish into 4 equal pieces and trim any dark membrane from the filets. Dry the filets with paper towels then place them on a plate. Mix together 2 teaspoons of salt, coriander, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub this spice mixture on the fish then cover the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Roughly chop the cauliflower head and place into a large pot of water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until tender, about 12 minutes.
Drain the cauliflower and place it into a blender. Blend until slightly chunky then add the whole milk, butter, remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and white pepper; puree until silky. Return the puree to the pot and cover to keep warm.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Use tongs to place the monkfish on the grates so that no piece is touching another. Do not move the fish once it is adhered to the hot surface. Once the fish forms a proper sear and grill marks, about 5 minutes, it will be easy to lift from the grill. The browning process and result is called the Maillard reaction. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side then use an instant-read thermometer to test the thickest part of the fish. It should read within 5 degrees of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the fish to a clean plate and cover with foil to allow the fish to rest and for carry-over cooking to increase the internal temperature to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat a medium sauté pan over high heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Brown the diced smoked chorizo in the oil for about 6 minutes then mix in the fava beans and minced thyme leaves. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the fava beans are warmed through. Different brands of chorizo have varying salt and heat contents so taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Finish with minced parsley and serve.
This recipe makes 4 servings.
Article originally published in the Boston Herald on March, 15 2016.