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A Fish That Takes to Grilling



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Grilled Fish and Shrimp
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A Fish That Takes to Grilling
The New York Times, June 5, 2002
by Mark Bittman

"Most fin fish have qualities in common, and chief among these is that they
become tender quickly. So tender and so quickly, in fact, that fin fish can be
difficult to grill, falling apart even before they have browned.
Monkfish is a different story. Its texture is more akin to that of a crustacean
(it was once known as poor-man's lobster), so it will never fall apart when
you're grilling it. But it's unusual in that if it is not thoroughly cooked, it
can be rubbery and tough.
Thorough cooking is not a problem on the grill, but it does present some
challenges. Generally, grilling is a fast technique, and there are times that it
can be too fast. You cannot tenderize a super-tough cut of meat through
normal grilling techniques, for example. And because normal grilling is the
most desiccating cooking technique there is, when things spend a relatively
long time on the grill, they tend to dry out. Think of a well-done steak.
Monkfish, then, and other types of fish that are best cooked well-done — like
shark and striped bass — require a bit of special handling when grilling. For
one thing, the grill should not be blazing hot, or the outside of the fish will
blacken long before the inside becomes tender. So if you're building a fire of charcoal or briquettes, either reduce the amount you use or let the fire die
down past its peak before grilling. You should be able to hold your hand a
few inches above the fire for at least three or four seconds before you begin
to cook.
Even with lowered heat, however, the exterior of monkfish dries out when
it's grilled, so I like to skewer it with bacon and tomatoes, two foods that
complement each other and the fish perfectly in flavor while providing plenty
of moisture. The tomatoes gain a wonderful roasted flavor, the bacon crisps
on the edges and remains tender where it is protected, and the three elements
need nothing more than a tiny bit of salt and some pepper.
There are a couple of techniques worth mentioning: cut the monkfish into
medium-sized chunks — about 1 1/2-inch cubes — so that its outside browns
at about the same time that its inside becomes tender. And use thick-sliced
bacon, folding each piece in half while skewering so that it does not burn —
or better still, cut small, thick slices from a slab."


Skewered Monkfish With Bacon and
Cherry Tomatoes

Time: 30 minutes or less

1 1/2 to 2 pounds monkfish,
cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
6 to 8 thick slices bacon, cut in half
20 cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper

1. Prepare a charcoal or wood fire or start a gas grill; you will want
medium, even heat, but not great heat. If you're using wood skewers,
soak them in water deep enough to cover them for at least 10 minutes.
2. When the fire is ready, skewer the monkfish chunks, bacon and
tomatoes in repeating order. Each piece of bacon should be folded in
half and skewered through the lean, not the fat. Sprinkle with a little
salt and a lot of pepper.
3. Grill fairly slowly, turning every 3 or 4 minutes, or as each side
browns; total cooking time will be about 15 minutes. The skewers
are done when the monkfish is cooked through and tender, the
bacon browned, the tomatoes soft. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings

 Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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