Monkfish cheeks? They’re little round white flaky fish bits, boneless, about the size of a large scallop. This was my first time trying them and I will definitely try them again! They are also cheaper than monkfish fillets.
I based this recipe on one I’ve already shared: Baked Shrimp with Asian Flavors. It makes a lovely broth.
MONKFISH CHEEKS WITH SAKE, TAMARI AND SESAME
1 lb. monkfish cheeks, rinsed (according to my research, you can just pull off any skin with your fingers, but mine did not have any)
1 T. coconut oil or other neutral cooking oil (such as peanut)
2 T. sake
1 T. tamari or soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tsps Asian sesame oil (the kind that tastes like sesame)
1 T. lemon juice or yuzu juice (Japanese citrus)
3 scallions, sliced (green parts only) – plus more for serving if you like
Pie plate or small casserole
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If you are using coconut oil, it can be solid depending on the temperature, so if it’s solid or half-liquid just scoop it into the pie plate and put the pie plate in the oven for a few minutes while you are making the sauce, to melt and liquify. If you are not using coconut oil, just add your oil to the pie plate and spread evenly, with no need to warm in the oven.
To make the sauce: mix together the sake, tamari, lemon or yuzu juice, and garlic in a small bowl.
Remove the pie plate from the oven if needed. Make sure the bottom of the pie plate is covered with a thin layer of oil (so you can get your fish out later). Layer your monkfish cheeks in a single layer in the pie plate. Pour the sake, tamari, and garlic sauce over the fish. Drizzle with the sesame oil. Sprinkle the sliced scallions on top. Resist the temptation to stir – you want layers in the pie plate of: coconut oil, then fish, then sauce, then sesame oil, then green onions.
Bake the fish at 400 degrees F for about 12 minutes. To check doneness, the fish should be pink and white through, but still slightly translucent (try not to overcook which will be rubbery). I usually cut into one big one to make sure it is cooked through. If you think they are almost-almost done then take them out and let them sit for a few minutes while they finish cooking.
Sprinkle with more sliced scallions for serving, if desired.
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