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Patricia Yeo
rising stars
November 2002 NEW YORK
Curried Monkfish "Osso Buco" with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Cauliflower Couscous
Patricia Yeo, AZ-New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs

I adore the texture of osso buco, the Italian veal shank dish that you cook for hours until the meat collapses into mouthfuls of pure flavor. I couldn't resist adapting the method into a fish stew, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the fish falls apart into juicy chunks after just 15 minutes of braising. My sauce combines red wine and lots of pungent spices that coat the fish with flavor, and the end result is still rich but much lighter and zingier than real osso buco. I use the tail ends of whole monkfish, which are thick with a bone down the middle, like a shank. But monkfish steaks with a center bone will work just as well. If you prefer, you can gently simmer the dish on the stove instead of baking it in the oven.

Sommelier Warner Strejan's Suggested Wine Pairing:
Kynsi Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, CA

For the broth:

  • 4 tablespoons garam masala (available in Indian markets and gourmet groceries)
  • 2 tablespoons java or another mild curry powder
  • 4 to 6 (6-8 ounce) skinless monkfish "tails" or steaks (see above)
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ cup minced ginger
  • 1-3 minced jalapeno chiles
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped seeded fresh tomatoes or drained canned tomatoes
  • Freshly peeled zest of 2 lemons, cut into thin strips
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups lightly salted chicken stock, shellfish stock, or clam juice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cauliflower Couscous (see recipe below)
  • Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (see recipe below)
  • whole fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

To finish the dish:

  • 4 (4-5 ounce) pieces blackfish, halibut or cod
  • 12 mussels
  • 12 small clams, such as Manila or cockles
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
  • Cilantro sprigs and finely shredded scallions, for garnish

Mix the garam masala and curry powder together. Season the fish all over with salt, then generously dust all over with the spice mixture.

Heat the oven to 350ºF. In a large heavy pot with a lid (that can fit in your oven), heat the oil over high heat. Working in 2 batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, add the monkfish and sear on all sides until browned, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the hot pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant and softened, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger, jalapen?o chiles, and garlic and cook, stirring, 5 minutes more. Add the tomato, zest, wine and stock and mix well. Bring to a boil. Return the monkfish to the pot, cover and transfer to the hot oven (You can leave this to cook on the stove top if your pot has plastic handles, but keep an eye on it to make sure its contents don't burn to the bottom.) Bake 15 minutes.

Remove the monkfish from the pot (carefully; it is cooked through and will be ready to fall off the bone) and set aside. Boil the vegetables and liquid in the pan until reduced by half. Purée the mixture with a hand blender or pass through a food mill to make a smooth sauce. Strain into a clean pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. (The recipe can be made up to this point and kept refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. It tastes best if served the day after it is made.)

To serve, gently reheat the monkfish in the sauce. When heated through, serve over couscous with roasted tomatoes, garnished with cilantro leaves.

Cauliflower Couscous

I like the slightly chewy texture of Israeli couscous, which is much bigger than the regular kind - almost the size of a pea. Both the cauliflower and the couscous are browned in butter, giving them a nutty, toasty flavor that is perfect with the fresh green herbs I toss in at the end.

4-6 servings

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 head cauliflower, florets only, broken into small uniform pieces
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous 3 cups lightly salted chicken or shellfish stock
  • ½ cup minced parsley ½ cup minced fresh mint
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over high heat. When the butter is melted and just beginning to brown, add the cauliflower and cook, stirring, until soft and browned. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a heavy saucepan with a lid, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Add the couscous and toast, stirring constantly, until the grains are evenly coated and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Let cook until almost dry, then add another ½ cup of stock. Repeat until the couscous is cooked through, using boiling water if you run out of stock - about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside, covered, until ready to serve. When ready to serve, fluff the couscous with a fork and mix in the cauliflower, parsley, and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Somewhere between a vegetable and a condiment, these meaty tomato halves are the definition of savory for me. The slow roasting intensifies both the tanginess and the sweetness of the tomatoes. Serve them as a side dish for any fish or roast lamb, or as a snack on crusty bread with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

6-8 servings

  • 15 plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 250ºF. Squeeze the tomato halves to remove the seeds and arrange them in a roasting pan with the cut sides facing up. Mix the garlic, shallots, thyme, and olive oil together and drizzle over the tomatoes, making sure to fill up the empty seed cavities. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 2 hours or longer, until very soft. Serve warm or at room temperature.