Arroz de Tamboril (Monkfish Rice)

Monkfish  (lophius) need a public relations makeover.  It’s an ugly scary looking fish which is why you don’t see it prominently displayed (if at all) at your local fish market.  Its unfortunate because it is a very tasty fish with a mellow flavor reminiscent of white fleshed fish like haddock or scrod.  Its texture and consistency is like that of lobster (it is even commonly known as “poor man’s lobster”) and it holds together well when stewed or grilled.   Its skinned flesh almost looks like catfish (a light gray) but when it is cooked it brightens and looks more like whiting or sea bass.  Depending on where you live in the world it is also called fishing-frogs, frog-fish, and sea-devils.  Monkfish is a a popular dish on Portuguese restaurant menus.  It is prepared in different ways from marinated  shish kebab to a tasty and rich fish stew where its firm texture doesn’t fall apart like other white fish.  Perhaps the most popular preparation is a seafood rice dish where among other fish it takes center stage.   The recipe below is my take on it and you can alter it and substitute other fish if monkfish isn’t available.  You should select something that is firm and will hold up in the cooking like ling,  Trevalla, coral trout, emperors, and even shark.  In a pinch I have used scallops and salt cod (soaked for 3 days) and once used lobster when it was on sale at my local supermarket.  A crucial aspect of the recipe is using fish stock to cook the rice because if you don’t it will taste bland.  I like to use leftover octopus stock from my Arroz De Polvo (Octopus Rice) but you can easily make some by boiling shrimp shells with some water, onion, garlic, celery, carrot and bay leaves.  If you need more information on how to make this stock check out Emeril Lagasse’s Shrimp Stock recipe.  I use fresh tomatoes for my version but you can also use canned diced tomatoes although it won’t be as lively and fragrant. ***Note on cleaning clams: soak them in salted water for about 1 hour in the fridge then scrub each one with a brush under cold tap water.  This will %100 ensure that you will never find sand in your final dish.

 

  

Arroz de Tamboril (Monkfish Rice)
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Arroz de Tamboril (Monkfish Rice)

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs skinned monkfish filet cut into 1.5 inch chunks
  • 1lb shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams rinsed and scrubbed
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • ½ green bell pepper diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper (more if you like it real spicy)
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Portuguese olive oil
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes grated on a box grater (or 14.5 oz canned petite diced tomato)
  • ½ cup of white whine
  • 3 cups of converted or parboiled rice
  • 6 cups of fish stock
  • chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  • Season the monkfish and shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • In a large pot saute the onions and peppers along with the salt and crushed red pepper until the onions are golden (about 10-12 minutes).
  • Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook for another minute by stirring constantly.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the juices cook away.
  • Add the monkfish and pour the white wine over it and cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated. Gently stir the fish to nestle it into the onion, peppers and tomato mixture.
  • Add the rice and stir to coat each each grain with the sauce.
  • Add the stock and bring to a boil.
  • As soon as it comes to a boil add the clams and cover the pot checking it at intervals to determine when the rice is almost cooked.
  • About 2 minutes before the rice is cooked add the shrimp and gently stir to work them into sauce.
  • Remove from the heat and garnish with the fresh cilantro.
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