Stewed Monkfish with Tomatoes and Herbs

960_centanniBefore Edward went to Italy this fall he packed the fridge in Katonah with all kinds of foods for my mother: meatballs with peas (two packs of two servings); braised chicken with tomatoes, onions, and red peppers, for four, in case she had company; marinara sauce; pureed potato, onion, carrots, and corn soup; bean soup with beef; chicken stock, and he laid in angel hair pasta to cook in it; and stewed monkfish with tomatoes and herbs.

Twice a day I checked in with my mother, who was rattling around the big house in Westchester by herself, and twice a day she’d report she was defrosting something for lunch or dinner. There was a big piece of Gorgonzola in the fridge, and a bottle of homemade white wine, and every day she went to town to buy lettuce and bread.

That simple outing allowed for some socializing and exercise, as she drives partway to town, and then walks to and from the car. I am trying to get her to use a cane because she walks as if tossed by cosmic winds, veering from left to right to left again, but she won’t. My parents are products of their generation, which willed itself to survive first the Depression and then World War II. They’re tough and hardheaded and independent.

It makes me wonder what will characterize my generation when we are elderly? Already I am seeing the first wave of baby boomers (I am in the last—born in 1959) in retirement mode. They are forever young in their outlook, living in the moment. That’s a good thing, I guess. Though I feel a sense of foreboding, as if it is all going to come to an end, maybe soon. I can’t help but want to be prepared, and so I put up a few dishes in the freezer, too.

Stewed Monkfish with Tomatoes and Herbs
Monkfish, an Atlantic fish, has delicate flavor and dense flesh. It’s sometimes called Poor Man’s Lobster.
Serves 2

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup loosely packed chopped mint
¼ cup loosely packed chopped tarragon
¼ cup white wine
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lb monkfish sliced into piece 1 ½ inch thick (see Note)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium high heat. Add the tomatoes and onions and cook until the onions break down, about 8 minutes. Add the herbs, white wine and vinegar and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until the winey smell is gone. Salt and pepper the monkfish, then add to the tomato mixture. Cover, and cook for 5 minutes until the flesh is opaque. Uncover, turn the fish over and cook for another 2 minutes.

The dish freezes well.

Note: Usually monkfish is sold as a fillet, so if that is the only way you can get it, just cut the fillet into 2 to 3 inch thick slices. Otherwise, a monkfish steak has a center bone, with meat all around. It is very nice.

3 Comments on “Stewed Monkfish with Tomatoes and Herbs

  1. Eugenia happy Monday.
    Your comments about the ‘boomers’ resonated with me as I too belong to that large group. As a perspective about how we live in that space and perhaps on the outcome, I have, along the trail, come across two offerings which I ponder from time to time to keep my focus. I thought you might enjoy reading then and pondering as well:
    “…we all live in a small place, between the future we anticipate and the past we try to relive.” If you can find the cartoon cover from the August 23, 2014 issue of The New Yorker magazine you will get a humorous illustrated sense of this first perspective.
    The other was lifted from an interview with our current president, “we are on this planet for a short time, so we cannot remake the world entirely during this little stretch of time we have. At the end of the day we are just part of a long running story, so we might just get our paragraph right!”
    Meanwhile, your monkfish recipe motivates me to want to get in the kitchen and go to work. If I do try the preparation I will most likely keep the tail meat on the bone. Kind of like braised ox tail, or a take on monkfish osso buco.
    Just a note of interest, a friend of mine sent me the link to your website since she felt there was some synergy with what I do in the kitchen and your ecosystem approach. I have enjoyed the posts I have read so far and little by little i have been navigating around your site. However an added bonus for me was the learn about and in a sense reconnect with your father Edward. I read a piece about him years ago and his love and approach to food which piqued my interest. So whenever I came across something written I would read that too. However, with your blog and website I can now keep up with him on a regular basis as well as benefit from whatever you are writing about. Thank you for that.

    • DM: Thank you for this. I did see the New Yorker cover. OMG my husband and I were cracking up. But seriously, I think about the end game all the time. Not in a morbid way, just how it’s to be lived. Can I make choices now? Do we have any control over our destiny? Okay, I am going to stop. Time to be in the here and now. Maybe I should go make some bread.

      • Eugenia I thought I might respond to your reply from this post, having just replied to another. Perhaps I should look on the site more often.
        From my perspective I have kind of distilled life down this way, yesterday is over and as such we cannot change in any way what happened in that span of time. Tomorrow is not yet here, and as such we have little to no control over what we may face when we begin the new day, given the chance. So today is all we have and as such we should attempt to make the most of the opportunity given. If baking bread, as you suggested, provides you with some comfort, then by all means bake away. But at the end of each day, let’s at least enjoy a good meal shared with good company.

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