Seasonal fish on the Christmas table

December 21st, 2009 § 0 comments

Last Saturday, while a frenzy of packing and last minute Christmas shopping was hitting my small household so that we could be ready to go for our flight to Morocco on Sunday, I had given up on publishing THE recipe I had wished to share with you before Christmas… That was without counting on the deep coat of snow that covered the Netherlands and neighboring countries on Sunday, plunging this part of Europe into chaos. No need to say that there was a long scary ride under the snow, a lot of queuing and waiting at the airport and of course no flight to Morocco or to about anywhere else that day.

Snow in Hoog Keppel (1)
Somewhere in Hoog Keppel, far, far away from the Moroccan sun…

Well we are still here in snowy Holland, but to see the things on the bright side: I had the occasion to enjoy a stroll in the untouched snow this morning, we managed to find another ticket for tomorrow (fingers crossed…), and I still get to share with you the perfect Christmas recipe for fish lovers. A fluffy fillet of monk fish*, my favorite fish, marinated in fresh herbs and wrapped in parma ham, roasted in the oven (inspired by a recipe from Masterchefs**) and served on a bed of red wine risotto.

Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of red wine risotto

Marinated monk fish wrapped in prosciutto**
Roti de lotte au jambon de Parme

serves 4 pers.
prep: 15 min. marinate: 30 min. cook: 15 to 20 min.

1 monk fish tail (~900 g with bone and skin);
10 slices parma ham (or speck);
1 Tsp parsley (the original recipe also called for 1 Tsp oregano), finely chopped;
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt;
5 peppercorns;
6 Tsp olive oil;
6 sage leaves, half of them finely chopped;
1 shallot, finely chopped;
1 Tsp xeres wine vinegar;
15 cl red wine;
30 cl fish (or vegetable) stock (see recipe below);
50g cold butter in small pieces;

~ Prepare the marinade: Grind the salt and pepper in a pestle, together with the chopped parsley and sage. Then add to the olive oil to make the marinade.

~ If, like me, your loved one decided it would be fun to hear you ‘singing’ french swearing words while fighting with the monkfish and refused the kind request of the fishmonger to prepare the fish: Skin the monkfish tail, being very careful to remove all of the membrane***, and remove the central bone. Reserve the membrane and bones for the stock. After rinsing and drying the monkfish tail fillet with kitchen paper, place the monkfish in a bowl and cover with the marinade, leave for at least 20 minutes.

~ Arrange 6 slices of the parma ham side by side on a work surface and lay the marinated monkfish fold in two on the ham, Cover with the remaining slices of ham so place the remaining sage leaves along the centre. Roll up the sides to enclose the fish. Repeat with the other fillet and the rest of the ham, and place on a baking tray. Cook in an oven at 200C/400F/Gas6 for 12-15 minutes.

~ Prepare the sauce, fry the finely chopped shallot in a little butter until soft. Add the vinegar and boil until almost dry, then add the red wine and reduce to about one quarter. Add the stock and reduce by about half. Strain through a sieve and season to taste.

~ To serve, slice the cooked fillet in thick slices, arrange the slices on the plate and drizzle with the sauce. A red wine risotto makes a perfect match with this recipe

Bon appétit!

Red wine risotto
Risotto au vin rouge

serves 4.
prep: 5 min. cook: 20 min

300 g carnaroli rice;
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped;
80 g butter;
15 cl red wine (I used a rioja),
750 ml to 1 l warm fish stock or vegetable stock (I didn’t had enough fish bones to make enough fish stock so I used a mix of fish stock and vegetable stock);
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste;

Melt 30 g of the butter in a pan deep and large enough to contain the cooked rice. Add the finely chopped shallot and fry on medium heat for a couple of minutes until soft. Stir in the rice and toss until the rice is nicely coated with the butter and starts to become translucent. Season to taste with salt

Pour the red wine and stir until the wine has evaporated. Then, lower the heat and add a couple of ladles warm stock. Stir regularly until the stock has almost completely evaporated. Repeat the operation until the rice is al dente (its should take about 15 minutes).

Remove from the heat, incorporate the remaining butter in small pieces, stirring well. Season with freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


Fish stock
Fumet de poisson

makes 75 cl.
prep: 5 min. cook: 30 min

500 g of fish bones, rinsed thoroughly with cold water;****,
25 g butter;
10 cl wine (usually white although this time I used red wine to accommodate the above recipes);
1 l water;
1 small onion roughly chopped;
1 leek (white part and a bit of green), thoroughly rinsed and roughly chopped;
1 celery branch, roughly chopped;
1 tsp coarse sea salt;
1 tsp peppercorns;
1 bouquet garni (laurel leave, parsley, thyme);

Add the chopped onion and leek in a deep soup pan and allow to sweat for a couple of minutes in the butter until they are soft but not colored. Add the fish bones and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour the wine, then add the salt, bouquet garni, peppercorns and the water.

Bring to a gentle simmer and then lower the heat. Cook, skimming regularly, for about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and strain to discards bones, vegetables and peppercorns.


*If like me you love monk fish but have consciously decided to savour eat as little as possible due to fishing issues, then the best time is winter when breeding is not an issue.

** The original recipe is from the Masterchef BBC series and can be find here
***Otherwise, the fish will take on a rubbery texture when cooked
****If you have the fish monger prepare the fish, you can ask to keep the fish bones for the stock

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