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.
Suggested Wine Pairing: Kynsi Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, CA
- 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)
cup canola oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
stalks celery, chopped
- ½ cup minced ginger
- 1-3 minced jalapeno
- ¼ cup minced garlic
- 2 cups chopped seeded fresh tomatoes
or drained canned tomatoes
- Freshly peeled zest of 2 lemons, cut into
- 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
finish the dish:
- 4 (4-5 ounce) pieces blackfish, halibut or cod
- 12 mussels
- 12 small clams, such as Manila or cockles
cups spinach leaves
- Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
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
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
- 15 plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
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.