Skin Deep – Monkfish with Caper and Brown Butter Lemon Sauce

Apr 24, 2011 by

Unlike its contemporaries, The Monkfish has never been known for its good looks. In some parts of the world, this poor fish had to be beheaded by law even before it was brought to the ports – France does this ring a bell? Known as the sea monster, this seemingly aggressive creature yields a delicate flavor. Monkfish finally came out of its closet as an increasing number of Mediterranean cultures began recognizing its culinary qualities. Unlike most white fish, the Monkfish has a sturdy flesh, and veal like qualities which is why much of its preparation follows land animals rather than it’s delicate aquatic cousins.

Today’s entry is a pan fried monkfish, drizzled with a brown butter sage and caper sauce and garnished with lemon supremes and homemade croutons. Simple, swift and very delicious, this dish can be put together with very little planning in advance.


Fish Preparation

1 ½ lbs of monk fish (approximately 3 pieces)
5 tblps all purpose flour
2oz canola oil
Salt and pepper


3 slices of cubed white bread (always easier to cube if bread is frozen)
1 tblsp butter for croutons
1 lemon – segments
2 tblspn capers
4oz butter (for brown butter sauce)
4 fresh sage leaves



1) On medium heat, melt butter for the croutons in a sauté pan, as the butter breaks down and becomes frothy, add the cubed bread. Continuously move around the pan until golden. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels
2) Remove the peel and pith from lemon and cut lemon slices from in between the membrane. Dice the lemon to the same size as the capers. Strain the lemon, reserving both the juice and the lemon segments separately.
3) Drain and rinse the capers and keep aside


1) Sprinkle salt and pepper and lightly flour the lighter colored side of the fish
2) Heat a sauté pan and place the monkfish pieces (if you’re pan is small, do not overcrowd and work the fish in batches), seasoned side down on the pan. Avoid moving the fish so that it can achieve a golden brown and crispy surface. As the color of the fish turns white, flip the fish over to finish cooking for another minute
3) Remove fish and blot any excess fat

Assembling Dish

1) Wipe the sauté pan and add the 4oz of butter for the brown butter sauce on medium heat. Continuously moving the pan, as he color deepens and becomes brown (Not burned), add the sage leaves. As the leaves crisp a little, turn off the heat momentarily and add the lemon juice. Bring back to heat for a couple of minutes to slightly thicken the sauce. Add capers
2) Sprinkle the lemon ‘supremes’ and croutons over the fish
3) Spoon the brown butter sauce over the fish and serve

Serving Suggestions

Serve with rice pilaf or simple boiled potatoes and steamed green beans

Pearls of Wisdom

Prepare the ingredients before you cook the fish so that all is required is assembly of ingredients once fish is cooked. This dish should be cooked as you are about to eat it as it takes no longer than 10 minutes to put together. If you cook the fish far in advance and reheat, it will become rubbery and will lose it’s crispy surface

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