During the planning for my Christmas meal, I was wondering what to do about a seafood course. At one point I had considered lobster. But given the time constraints of what I had in mind, I went from lobster with sauce americaine, to Iron Chef Sakai’s Seaweed Steamed Lobster to his Seaweed Steamed Snapper With Tomato Oil Sauce. I had recently seen a dish listed on the menu at Per Se just after Thanksgiving 2016 using monkfish and I’d remembered that monkfish was sometimes considered as poor-man’s lobster. And so I decided that Monkfish with Sakai’s Tomato Oil Sauce with perhaps crisp garlic chips and chives as garnish might fit the bill. The tomato oil sauce can be found online here:
The sauce was basically built from a concasse of 3 tomatoes and a teaspoon of garlic (minced, and I would grate them instead)
cooked in 4 tablespoons of olive oil, finished with 2 tablespoons of finely minced basil. (This sounded suspiciously like the
pomodoro sauce from Nobu Now). So to begin, I prepared three tomatoes by blanching them to remove their skins, split
them open to get as much as the seeds out and finely diced them for use in a sauce (think concasse). Instead of mincing up
the garlic, I relied on grating it to make sure it blended well into the sauce. My wife kindly helped out by mincing up 2 tablespoons of fresh basil.
So I then got 4 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil into a hot sauce pot, turned the heat down to medium and then added the garlic. I added
the tomatoes when I could smell the aroma of the garlic and cooked it all down until the pieces of tomato was nice and soft (and nearly blended)
in. I moved the cooked sauce to a measuring cup so I could estimate how to season the sauce. As it would turn out, it was about a cup and a third which meant it was going to be a little more that 1/4 teaspoon of 4:1 salt/pepper mix. Because it was 1/3 cup more, I thought to add 1/8 teaspoon more of the 4:1 salt/pepper mix. Back into the sauce pot the sauce went to simmer and I turned my attention to making the thinly sliced garlic
chips a la Nobu using about 7 cloves of garlic fried in grapeseed oil. When that was done, I re-checked my sauce, took it off the heat and stirred in the minced basil and set it aside before use with the cooked monkfish.
For the monkfish medallions, I cut them from 2 6 oz fillets into 1″ rounds (think scallops) and seasoned them with 4:1 salt/white pepper mix (Chef Keller is really clear on this point – he only uses white pepper with fish, not black). Into a large preheated (very) hot skillet, I added about 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil and proceeded to place the medallions in the pan going around in a clockwise circle – that’s how I would know the
order when/which pieces were to be turned over. I turned the heat down to 50% max power and seared the first side for about 4 minutes (think
searing diver scallops) and then turned them over to cook for another 3 until just cooked through. Once the fish was done, I began plating by
running a line of the tomato oil sauce down the center of the plate. I finished up by lining medallions atop the sauce and then covering the fish
with the crisp garlic chips. Dinner was completed by a side of oven roasted vegetables which my wife graciously prepared to accompany the meal. My wife’s reaction to the dish was “wow the tomato oil sauce really went well with the well cooked/seasoned monkfish and the crisp garlic chips were a great flavor textural match as well”. So I guess my fish course for the holiday meal is ready to go!