Whole Satay Monkfish Tail

Carrot & Pickled Chilli Salad, Peanut & Lime Dressing

Recipe from Nathan’s 2023 cookbook, ‘Fish for Dinner’

“Whole monkfish tail, marinated and cooked over coals, is the perfect fish for the barbecue, hands down. There’s something magical about how the fish cooks over the high heat that breaks down the muscles in the flesh and it all becomes tender and charred on the outside.” – Nathan


Alternative fish:
any fish suitable for the barbecue, lobster or prawns

Serves 4

12-1.5kg (2Ib 12oz-3lb 5oz) monkfish tail on the bone, trimmed of sinew and skin
Olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pickled carrots and chillies
1 banana shallot, finely sliced on a mandolin
2 large carrots, sliced into rounds
2 red chillies, halved lengthways, deseeded and finely sliced lengthways
1 stick of lemongrass, bashed and left whole
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
50g (1¾oz) fresh ginger, roughly sliced
100ml (3½fl oz) cider (hard cider)
100ml (3½fl oz) cider vinegar
100ml (3½fl oz) water
100g (3½0z) caster (superfine) sugar

For the marinade
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 sticks of lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, finely sliced 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Zest of 2 limes (save the juice for the dressing)

For the dressing
200ml (7fl oz) olive oil
100g (3½0z) roasted and salted peanuts, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar
4 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
4 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

To serve
2 baby gem lettuce, cores removed, leaves separated
Sprigs of coriander (cilantro)
2 limes, halved

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TIP: Monkfish, sometimes called anglerfish, is meaty and versatile with only one central bone, ideal for cooking this way.

First pickle the shallot, carrots and chillies. Place them in a large bowl with the lemongrass, garlic and ginger. Place the cider, cider vinegar, measured water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring. Simmer for 1 minute and then pour this pickling liquor over the shallots, carrots and chillies and season with salt. Make sure everything is submerged, then set aside to cool. If you are making the pickles in advance, transfer to a clean container, seal and leave in the fridge until needed. Stored in a sterilized jar in the fridge, these pickles will keep for a month.

To marinate the monkfish, make slits through to the bone at approximately 5cm (2in) intervals, then lift the whole monkfish tail onto a tray.

For the marinade, toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant, then place in a small food processor with the salt and blitz for 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, garlic and ginger and blend for another minute. Add the oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and lime zest and blend to a paste.

Rub all the marinade into the monkfish tail, then leave to marinate in a cool place for at least 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours in the fridge. Beyond this time the monkfish may over-marinate, so try to use it before 12 hours are up.

To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste and season with salt if you think it is needed.

Light your barbecue (grill) around 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking as you need to ensure the coals are white hot or the fish will stick. If grilling the fish, preheat the grill to its highest setting for 10 minutes. Remove the monkfish from the fridge and scrape off any excess marinade.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place the lettuce in a serving bowl, spoon over some of the dressing and scatter over the drained pickles and a few coriander (cilantro) sprigs

Place the monkfish directly on the barbecue grill (or on a tray under the grill) and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. To tell if it’s done, insert the point of a small knife into the thickest part between the flesh and bone and hold it there for 5 seconds. Now rest the knife on the back of your hand and it should feel between warm and hot.

You can either remove the monkfish from the bone and serve it on warmed plates or transfer the whole thing onto a large warmed platter. Spoon over some more dressing, add the lime wedges and serve the rest of the dressing and salad on the side.