Feeling cheeky once more. Whenever my fishmonger has monkfish cheeks I have to buy them, they are so good. As with cod cheeks (which I blogged about in my most recent post) they are tender and ready to go. No chopping, just as they are. They are wonderful fried in a tempura batter with a garlic aioli to dip in. They are sublime in a curry. They cook fast making them perfect for weekday evenings and hot summers where you don’t want to be over the stove. With delicate white fish like this there is much that you can do.
An instant ragu might seem like a pointless, maybe even impossible thing. A great ragu takes time after all, but bear with me. I use the term ragu in the loose sense of the word. I am not saying even for a second that there is such a thing as an instant Italian ragu. I have so much respect for that sauce and I have shared beautiful authentic versions of ragu that Italians were kind enough to share with me. What this sauce has is the depth of flavour and fruitiness that I recognise in ragu and we get there in a super speedy way. It coats pasta beautifully for a speedy supper, and here it gives gorgeous monkfish cheeks a steady sleepy rumble. It is much subtler than you think, my friend didn’t realise there was chorizo in there, he just asked WHAT was in THAT lovely sauce, (and in that way).
Fresh tomatoes are so perfect right now. Another one of those fruity yellow beef tomatoes fits the bill perfectly here. I always peel them, those few minutes make all the difference and deliver a super smooth sauce. I go heavy on the garlic because why wouldn’t you want to? If you are garlic shy feel free to reduce though. Fresh oregano from the garden, although oregano dries well especially the Italian and Greek oregano that is dried and sold in bunches. Coconut milk might seem an unusual choice but it works really well, I put it in because that is what I had to hand. You could substitute Greek yogurt or creme fraiche if coconut is not your thing.
This is easy and quick and tastes complicated – that is how we roll here. Enjoy!
- 350g fresh tomato, peeled and roughly chopped
- 500g monkfish cheeks
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
- 1 tbsp Spanish paprika (I like hot, but if you want milder choose the sweet / dulce one)
- 125g good quality chorizo
- 225ml coconut milk (for dairy free) / or creme fraiche
- 1 tbsp light oil for frying
- a handful of fresh basil leaves to finish
- salt for seasoning
- serve with rice or good crusty bread / toast
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