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.