Friday, November 5, 2010

Poached Monkfish with Artichokes & Potatoes

Poached Blue Warehou with Artichokes 7, cropped & edited

Some of you will recall seeing some of the recipes I featured here a few months back while the I Heart Cooking Clubs group was cooking with Mark Bittman.  Bittman turned out to be a real favourite for most of us, and collectively the group produced about 380 dishes using Mark Bittman's recipes - that's some good cooking!  Meanwhile, my friend Alex over at A Moderate Life has for some months been doing a weekly "Tackling Bittman" post, which she regularly shared with the group.  Now that I Heart Cooking Clubs has moved on to cooking with Giada de Laurentiis, Alex (who is not easily diverted) is continuing her weekly Tackling Bittman post and, being the generous soul that she is, she has offered the Bittman fans among us the opportunity to join in with her in a monthly Tackling Bittman blog hop.

This recipe is my contribution.  I had some beautiful fresh artichokes which I got at the Lyttelton Farmers Market on the weekend that I wanted to use, and a quick search of artichokes in the "How to Cook Everything" application on my iPhone turned up this recipe for Poached Monkfish with Artichokes.  In actual fact, I couldn't get good monkfish fillets at my fishmonger yesterday, so I used blue warehou, but any thick, firm-fleshed fillets will do.

Preparing the artichokes, if you're using fresh ones, is a little bit fiddly, but really not too much.  If you don't have fresh, or can't be bothered with them, then frozen (if you can get them) would be fine.  I guess you could also use bottled artichoke hearts but, in that case, I would add them in near the end, when you add the fish, otherwise they will just disintegrate.

If using fresh artichokes, be aware that they will oxidise and turn brown quickly, so have ready a bowl of acidulated water (just water to which the juice of a lemon has been added), and I also find it useful to have half a lemon handy and keep rubbing the artichokes with the cut side of the lemon flesh as I work.

Firstly peel off the tough outer leaves - they will kind off snap off near the base.  Then using a knife, trim around the bottom of the artichoke and peel away the tough, fibrous, outer layer of the stem.  Cut off the top half of the leaves.  Then cut them in half lengthwise, scoop the "hairy" choke out of the middle, and then cut in half again.

Poached Blue Warehou with Artichokes 6, cropped & edited

Immediately, put the cut artichokes into their lemony bath until you are ready to use them.

Poached Blue Warehou with Artichokes 5, cropped & edited

Once the artichokes are prepared the rest of this dish is a breeze, and takes barely 20 minutes to cook from start to finish.

The verdict - this dish went down very well here - the fish and potatoes take on plenty of flavour from the thyme and wine, and the artichokes and olives provide both good flavour and good textural contrast to the fish and potatoes.  I adjusted some of the quantities in the original recipe to serve two people, and I served this with a simple spring salad of beans, asparagus and zucchini.  I will definitely be making this dish again.

Poached Monkfish with Artichokes & Potatoes

Poached Blue Warehou with Artichokes 2

Adapted from Mark Bittman's
Serves 2
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

2 large (or 6 baby) fresh artichokes (or frozen)
3 tablespoons olive oil
300g waxy potatoes, peeled & cut into small chunks
(I had new potatoes, so didn't bother peeling)
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme, several sprigs
1/2 cup dry white wine
generous handful black olives
1 clove garlic, minced
750g monkfish, or other thick, firm fillets

To serve:
fresh parsley, chopped
lemon wedges

Firstly, if using fresh artichokes, prepare as detailed above.

Set a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.  Once the oil is hot add the artichokes and potatoes to the pan, and cook until they are all glistening and well coated with oil and just barely beginning to soften - take care not to brown them.

Poached Blue Warehou with Artichokes 4

Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and add the white wine and thyme.  Bring up to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer.  Cover and cook until the potatoes are just tender - about 10 to 15 minutes.

Poached Blue Warehou with Artichokes 3

Uncover the pan, and raise the heat again.  Add in the olives, and garlic, and nestle the pieces of fish into the mixture.  Cover again, and cook until the fish has become opaque - about 3 to 5 minutes.

Poached Blue Warehou with Artichokes 1

Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, serve with lemon wedges and garnish with a sprinkling of flat-leaf parsley.

Interested in cooking some more with Mark Bittman?  I highly recommend any of these Mark Bittman books:

How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food   How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food   Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 inspired seasonal dishes you can make in 20 minutes or less

Available from Amazon, Book Depository UK, and Fishpond NZ

As mentioned, I'm submitting this post to the Tackling Bittman blog hop at A Moderate Life

This post is also submitted to the Tackling Bittman Giveaway at girlichef - she's giving away a copy of Bittman's "The Food Matters Cookbook" - entries are open until 31 January.


  1. You show an appealing meal here. I tried monkfish and just didn't care for the texture, however, I would be more than willing to try it again, cooked differently. Yours looks fantatstic :-)

  2. Artichokes are one vegetable I have never eaten - outside a dip made here for most every party I go to - it is good but I think it is the cheese I like LOL - and I have always been a little afraid of them, mostly because I had no idea how to even prepare them - thanks!! I guess I thought you ate the green outer leaves. The pictures are super helpful. I am so glad you linked this up to the Tackling Bittman Recipe Hop!!

  3. Pierce - thank you. The texture of monkfish is a little unusual - it's definitely firm-fleshed, and not at all flaky, and it can seem almost "spongy". You could substitute any other firm-fleshed fish that you have access to.

    Christy - the artichoke dip sounds interesting - I'd like to try that. Hope you have a go at artichokes now that you know how to prepare them.


  4. Monkfish is a very precious fish!
    I like your combination looks so temptinig!
    very jummy
    Have a nice week end!

  5. I haven't seen an artichoke flower in years - my parents used to farm them and toward the end of the season, they'd let them flower out. So pretty.
    The dish looks so succulent, Sue, and it's just up my alley. If only I could get the husband to eat fish without it being fried...

  6. Sue - your photos are gorgeous - especially the artichokes! The dish sounds amazing, too. Fantastic as always. I so enjoy your blog!


  7. Love the first pic and anti chokes looks brilliant, wonderful recipe :)

  8. The only artichokes I've had are the hearts in a jar and I'm sure I've never had monkfish (or blue warehou). I wish I had been there to share this dish with you because it sounds delicious and it would be something new for me. Also, it would taste way better if you made it because doesn't food always taste better when someone else makes it, lol! I laughed at your sloppy joe comment Sue. You really need to try it, it's delicious! :o)

  9. Artichokes are plentiful in my part of the world and I love them. I will try your recipe with halibut if I don't find monkfish. Great recipe!

  10. What a unique dish! Love the pictures! I'm coming over for dinner!

  11. Sue,
    I'm going to have to join Christy in the "never eaten artichokes" group too. But, you make it look easy and appealing for sure! I also had no idea there was a Bittman app for iPhone! Gotta go look that one up. :)

    Thanks for sharing on the Tackling Bittman Recipe Hop!!

    Dr. Laura

  12. Barbara - thanks for visiting - monkfish is such a great fish to use in dishes like this - I also really like to use it in things like curries or fish stews because it doesn't fall apart.

    Hi Louanne - these particular artichokes really were pretty, but let me tell you those thorns on the leaf tips really were sharp, but I loved that they still had pretty pink leaves even once they'd been trimmed back. Funny how some people will only eat fish fried :-)

    Veronica & Ananda - thanks so much for visiting and for such really kind comments. It really was a delicious dish.

    Brenda - most of the time the artichokes I have are out of a jar - being able to buy fresh is a rare and special treat, and we don't seem to be able to get frozen ones here. In the absence of monkfish or blue warehou, any firm fleshed fish (such as groper or snapper) would do. I would love to have shared it with you - if you're ever in my part of the world I promise to make it for you. You are so right though, food made for you by someone else is always wonderful, even if it just beans on toast.

    Michelangelo - I am so envious of your abundance of artichokes - halibut would make a great alternative to monkfish in this dish - I hope you try it.

    Debbi - you would be so welcome here - I'll set a place for you :-)

    Hi Dr Laura - thanks for visiting - hope you give artichokes a try, and you've so got to get that Bittman app - it's great.

    Sue :-)

  13. Hi Suzy Q! I wanted to thank you so much for sharing this recipe on our first Tackling Bittman Recipe Hop and I look forward to you joining our hosting team next month! You know I am not a fish person, but the idea of creating a lovely blend with artichokes and other light and zesty flavors looks pretty darn good to me! I probably need to just bite the bullet and try more fish recipes and who better than Bittman to try? All the best and big hugs too! Alex

  14. It's funny - every time a post a fish dish I have a little smile to myself and think "Mmmm, Alex won't want to try this one" :-) But maybe this will be the one. It is a love dish so I hope you try. Looking forward to teaming up for the next Bittman Blog Hop.

    Sue :-)

  15. This sounds like such a good weather meal, Sue...makes me wish I was sitting in an ocean breeze with some palm trees swaying...a bottle of wine and a loaf of crusty bread nearby. Absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing it w/ Tackling Bittman this month, as well :D

  16. This looks amazing! Love the flavours and I'm always on the lookout for more fish recipes. I'm going to get that app right now and this is going on my menu for the week - thanks!


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