Something fishy from Simon Rhodes, Lobsterpot Fishmongers, Wood Street, Swindon

MONKFISH are probably the ugliest fish in our waters — they have enormous heads which are not in proportion to their bodies.

They are so ugly that traders take off their heads before selling them at the market. All that is sold are the monkfish tails.

Having said that, this once neglected, under-used fish was used for scampi, it was also a by-catch years ago. Then some television chefs did some amazing things with monkfish and suddenly it was on every fish cooking programme, naturally the price of monkfish increased.

This firm meaty fish is able to ‘walk’ on the bottom of the seabed with its fins and change colour to blend in with its background so that it can hunt its prey.

Parma ham or prosciutto works really well with monkfish which is usually wrapped around the fillet and gently roasted in the oven.

Chorizo is another favourite accompaniment, as its smoky flavour works well against the light sweet flesh.

Monkfish is also perfect for curries and stews as the flesh is so firm that it holds together well during cooking. As the fish holds a lot of juice it is advisable to season the fish with salt for an hour before cooking as this will draw out the moisture and will make it easier to pot roast or fry.

As monkfish is ideal for curries I thought I would share this Malaysian Curry recipe with you.

First cut the monkfish into large chunks, season with salt and set aside.

Then dry fry 3 tbsp grated or desiccated coconut in a large wok until evenly brown. Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil, some galangal or root ginger, chillies, 2 garlic cloves and shredded lemon grass and fry briefly. Stir in a tspn of shrimp paste or fish sauce. Then add a tin of coconut milk to the wok.

Now add the about a pint of chicken stock, ½ tspn of turmeric, a little sugar, a little salt and the juice of lime or lemon. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the fish and simmer for 6 - 8 minutes. Garnish with coriander and lime slices and serve with rice, if liked.

Sambal, a hot relish, is traditionally served with this.

Mix together 2 skinned and chopped tomatoes, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 finely chopped green chilli and 2 tbsp lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle over 2 tbsp grated or desiccated coconut.