Monkfish Curry.

Pan fried monkfish in a beautiful and creamy coconut milk and Thai red curry paste sauce with asparagus, snow peas and baby bella mushrooms. This mild curry dish is best served over Jasmine rice with lots of herby cilantro and lime wedges. If you love fish curries, you will love this monkfish curry.

Ohhh – and the best part about this recipe? It’s easy to make (it may sound fancy, but it’s not!) and it’s ready in under 30 minutes.

An overhead image of red monkfish curry.

WHAT IS MONKFISH?

Monkfish (also known as devil-fish, goose fish, headfish, American anglerfish and more) is found in deep waters from North Carolina to Maine. These bottom dwellers can grow to be up to 3 feet and 30 lbs. U.S. wild-caught monkfish is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations (source: NOAA Fisheries).  Monkfish have enormous heads and feed on the bottom of the ocean on lobsters, crabs, fish, shellfish, other monkfish, etc. They are {very} ugly fish, but gosh are they tasty.

The edible part of monkfish is the tail (the tail has two filets, one on each side of its spine). Sometimes you can find monkfish cheeks as well and the livers are typically removed as well and exported to Japan. The monkfish flesh is usually whitish/greyish/pinkish (see below) and is typically is sold as boneless filets with a membrane (that’s pink or grey) surrounding the flesh. You’ll need to remove this membrane (using a paring knife, slice into it and carefully pull the membrane off in pieces) prior to cooking, otherwise the membrane seizes up and the resulting filet can be tough. This can be a very slippery and difficult task, but the end result is worth the effort. You don’t have to remove every piece of membrane, just the majority.

If you have a great fishmonger, ask them to remove the membrane for you. The last time I purchased monkfish, I had our local fish market remove the membrane and I was able to watch them do it – they followed the same process I did, but they were much more adept (and faster!) at removing it.

An image of raw monkfish fillets

An image of cubed monkfish fillets

WHAT DOES MONKFISH TASTE LIKE?

Another name for monkfish is “poor man’s lobster” and for good reason – monkfish eat a lot of lobster, so its meat tastes very similiar to lobster, but it’s much cheaper. It also has a similar texture, though I find it a bit more tender than lobster meat. Monkfish is meaty, mild, slightly sweet, rich (yet its a lean fish) and buttery. Not surprisingly, monkfish, as with lobster (and most seafood), pairs very well with butter.

Monkfish is actually one of my favorite fish to eat, probably because of its similarity to lobster. Monkfish is firm enough to hold up to most all cooking methods, including grilling, as it won’t fall flake apart. And it’s perfect for soups, stews and chowders. And beautiful fish curries like this one.

An image of a white plate of monkfish curry with cilantro and lime.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS MONKFISH CURRY RECIPE?

You’ll need:

  • Peanut oil (or sub in canola or safflower)
  • Monkfish fillets
  • Sweet onion
  • Scallions
  • Ginger (use freshly grated)
  • Garlic (use fresh garlic, not jarred or dried)
  • Snow peas
  • Baby bella mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Red Thai curry paste. We used this one from Thai Kitchen which is a combination of red chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger) and spices.
  • Coconut milk (use full fat)
  • Fish sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Cilantro (or sub Thai basil if you can get it)

Feel free to swap in/out veggies – use what you have on hand. I happened to see first of the season asparagus, so I grabbed a bunch and they were a nice addition. You could also use baby bok choy, spinach, baby corn, red peppers, etc. Feel free to make this fish curry your own.

An image of ingredients to make monkfish curry.

HERE’S HOW TO MAKE THIS THAI MONKFISH CURRY:

This curry comes together quickly in a few steps:

  1. Pan fry the monkfish on the stovetop in a large skillet to brown it on both sides. Don’t cook it all the way through. This will create much more flavor than if you just simmered the monkfish in the coconut milk. Remove the monkfish from the skillet and set aside.

An image of monkfish chunks in a skillets.

2. Add onion and scallion white parts and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant. Add the veggies, red curry paste and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.

3. Then add the monkfish back to the skillet with all of its juices. Simmer until monkfish is cooked through, a few minutes. Add the fish sauce and lime juice. Remove from heat.

4. Spoon the curry over jasmine rice. Top with cilantro, green parts of the scallions and serve with plenty of lime wedges.

An overhead image of a plate of monkfish curry with cilantro and lime on a wooden table.

FAQs:

Is this monkfish curry spicy?

Nope, this is a mild curry, as we don’t like a ton of spice. It does have a bit of a kick, but you could certainly add more red curry paste if you’d like, slice up some red Thai chilies to put on the finished dish.

Is this monkfish curry healthy?

Yes! Monkfish is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. And all the veggies in this curry are nutrient rich, full of fiber and plant powered compounds.

Can you substitute another fish or shellfish for the monkfish?

Yes! You could sub in lobster, shrimp or any firm white fish like haddock, cod, pollock, mahi mahi, halibut, etc.

Can you make this monkfish curry ahead of time?

You can, but I don’t recommend it because the veggies and monkfish will overcook. However, you could make the base thai red curry sauce ahead of time. Then, when you’re near serving time, heat it gently on the stove, pan fry the monkfish in a skillet just until browned on both sides and add it to the sauce. Then add the veggies to the sauce and heat until the fish is cooked through and the veggies are tender crisp.

What should you serve with this monkfish curry?

We love it with Jasmine rice, or any rice of your choice. It would also be great with naan bread.

An overhead image of red monkfish curry.

Monkfish curry

Pan fried monkfish in a beautiful and creamy coconut milk and Thai red curry paste sauce with asparagus, snow peas and baby bella mushrooms. This mild curry dish is best served over Jasmine rice with lots of herby cilantro and lime wedges. If you love fish curries, you will love this monkfish curry. Ohhh – and the best part about this recipe? It’s easy to make (it may sound fancy, but it’s not!) and it’s ready in under 30 minutes.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 483 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or canola or safflower oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds monkfish filets
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 1 bunch scallions divided
  • 2 inches ginger root peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 ounces snow peas
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
  • 10 ounces asparagus halved
  • 3 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
  • 14 ounces coconut milk (1 can)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 lime juice of and wedges
  • 1 cup cilantro roughly chopped

Instructions
 

  • Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Blot the monkfish dry with a paper towel and lightly salt and pepper both sides.
  • Add monkfish to the skillet and brown on both sides. Don't cook through. Remove fish from skillet and set aside. You'll add it back to the curry towards the end of cooking time.
  • Add the onion and scallion (white parts) and saute until translucent, 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant. Add the veggies, red curry paste and coconut milk. Bring to a light boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Add the monkfish back in and simmer for 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Monkfish is cooked through when fully white (opaque), springy to the touch and reaches at an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F.
  • Add the fish sauce and lime juice (from 1 lime) and stir until combined. Remove from heat.
  • Serve monkfish curry overtop Jasmine rice with cilantro, green parts of the scallions and lots of lime wedges (from the remaining lime).

Nutrition

Calories: 483kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 32gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 414mgPotassium: 1548mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 2955IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 126mgIron: 7mg
Keyword Monkfish Curry
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