Grilled Monkfish and Chard Tagine with a Simple Fennel Salad

Grilled monkfish and chard tagine
After a good thanksgiving week of overindulgence I think we all crave a little bit of clean tasting food. Much as I love turkey with all the trimmings and its resulting tryptophan food coma, I need to have something lighter and sharp soon afterwards. But it’s still cold and wintry here, so hearty food is still in order. This monkfish and chard tagine is a perfect solution: it’s by turns sharp, filling and deeply flavourful without being too heavy.

monkfishThe monkfish does double duty in this meal. Most of it is simply grilled (that’s English for broiled) with some garlic, oregano and crushed coriander seed. The trimmings make it into the tagine; slow cooked along with crushed tomatoes, olives and preserved lemons for a really tasty stew. I love that you get two different treatments of this wonderful, firm fish for very little extra effort.

monkfish Tagine

 

In case you’re wondering, a tagine is the name for a slow-cooked dish from North Africa. It’s named after the pot in which it cooks; sort of like a wide casserole dish with a conical wizard’s hat. The shape of the lid means that the steam condenses and is returned to the stew, giving you a particularly juicy dish. I have found that a tight fitting lid on a sauté pan does a good job, as does fashioning your own top from foil

simple fennel salad

This meal is a riff on one put together by Jamie Oliver in his book Meals in Minutes. If you haven’t checked out the book, I recommend it; it’s a great collection of whole meals as opposed to individual recipes. The dish here is largely similar: I swapped out fennel seed in the tagine and grill for the more subtle flavour of coriander seed, and instead of mussels in the tagine, I decided to use some vibrant swiss chard. And because tomatoes aren’t really in season any more here, I went for tinned. I actually prefer using tinned toms for something like a tagine, they just have more of an intense flavour from the get-go. To go with the tagine, I went with Oliver’s suggestion of a simple fennel salad dressed with lemon and cilantro (although I stopped short of shredding the whole lemon into the salad).

making grilled monkfish and chard tagine

Grilled Monkfish and Chard Tagine
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 pieces of Monkfish, about 6-8oz each
  2. A couple of teaspoons of coriander seeds, crushed
  3. Half a cinnamon stick
  4. A small onion, finely sliced
  5. A generous pinch of red chilli flakes
  6. Half a dozen olives, chopped
  7. A pinch of dried Oregano
  8. A couple of generous pinches of Garam Masala
  9. A small handful of Cilantro, chopped
  10. A clove of Garlic, crushed
  11. A few strands of saffron
  12. Half a preserved lemon, chopped
  13. Half a bunch of Chard
  14. A 14oz can of crushed tomatoes
Optional
  1. A couple of tablespoons of Labneh or yoghurt
  2. About a half teaspoon of harissa
Instructions
  1. Preheat your broiler.
  2. In your widest pan that has a lid (you can fashion a tinfoil cone for the tagine too), heat a slug of Olive Oil over a medium heat with the cinnamon stick and half the coriander seeds.
  3. Cut off about a half inch or so from the monkfish. Roughly chop the end of the fish, setting the big piece aside. Add the chopped fish to the pan, along with the onion, chilli flakes and olives. Put a lid on and stir every now and again while you prep the fish fillets.
  4. Put the fillets in the smallest ovenproof dish that they will fit in. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter with a pinch of oregano and garam masala, the remaining coriander seeds, salt and pepper. Give them a little shake to get them coated all over, add the garlic and put under the broiler. They will take about 15 minutes, and you want to turn them once or twice during cooking. If they are ready before the rest of the meal, simply turn the broiler off and cover with foil until you need them.
  5. Once the fish is under the broiler, add the tomatoes, garam masala, preserved lemon and saffron to the tagine. Chop the chard stalks into 1/4" slices and add them too. A few minutes before the fish is ready, shred the chard leaves and add them to the tagine, along with the cilantro.
  6. Serve the fish sitting atop the tagine along with some simple couscous and a salad. If you are making the yoghurt harissa, simply mix the two together and add a little salt. A dollop on top adds a nice bit of spicy creaminess.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/

Simple Couscous
Serves 2
This barely needs a recipe it's so simple to make. I love making couscous because it doesn't even need a pan to make.
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Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2/3 cup couscous
  2. Water or vegetable stock to cover
  3. Harissa to taste
Instructions
  1. Put the couscous in a bowl or serving dish and add enough water or stock to cover. Season with salt and pepper and a little slurp of Olive Oil. Cover until needed; it will be ready in about 5-10 minutes, but will stay warm longer. To serve, fluff with a fork and stir in a little harissa for a kick.
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/
Simple Fennel Salad
Serves 2
For the times when you want something more than a green salad but equally easy.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. A medium Fennel Bulb, shredded
  2. A small handful of Cilantro, shredded
  3. Juice of half a lemon
  4. About the same amount of Olive Oil
Instructions
  1. Mix the fennel and cilantro, along with the juice and oil. Season well and let sit for five minutes or so for the flavours to mix.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/

Pairing with Monkfish and Chard Tagine

The obvious choice here would be moroccan mint tea. If you fancy some wine then I like to think that a red Rioja would make a fine companion to this sort of North African food. It’s suitably gutsy and fruity and can stand up to both the spice and the sharpness of the tagine.

Provenance

Monkfish: P.E. & D.D. Seafood

Coriander Seed, Cinnamon Stick, Garam Masala, Couscous: Kalustyan’s

Onion, Cilantro: Paffenroth Gardens

Chilli Flakes, Olives, Preserved Lemon, Saffron, Tinned Tomatoes, Labneh, Harissa: Sahadi’s

Dried Oregano: Titan Foods

Chard, Fennel: Migliorelli Farms

Garlic: Keith’s Farm

 

 
 

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