Monkfish is sometimes hailed as “the poor man’s lobster,” which might not sound like much of a recommendation at first glance. However, the nickname is an apt one given that both monkfish and lobster both have a subtly sweet flavor—and the fact that monkfish is usually available at a fraction of the cost.
If you’ve never tried monkfish before, don’t be put off by the creature’s decidedly hideous appearance. While it’s widely regarded as one of the ugliest fish in the sea, the taste of the flesh more than makes up for its lack of aesthetic value. Besides, you’ll be able to remove the head before you eat it—that is, if this step hasn’t already been taken care of in advance (see Ingredients, below).
Here, we’ve provided our favorite recipe for grilled monkfish. The mild, lean flesh pairs especially well with the brightness of lemon, with the anise undertones of the dill providing a warm counterbalance. We recommend serving this dish with grilled asparagus and jasmine rice.
Tips On How To Grill Monkfish
- Be sure to buy the freshest fish available. The flesh should be firm, with no noticeable fishy odor.
- Monkfish can sometimes give off a milky fluid when it’s cooked, which could cause flare-ups on the grill. Marinating the fish will help to alleviate this problem. Alternatively, you can thoroughly salt the flesh or soak it in brine for up to one hour before cooking.
- The flesh is a natural partner for the grill because it doesn’t flake or fall apart easily. It can even be cubed and skewered for kebabs.
- To check whether the monkfish is fully cooked, carefully slide a sharp paring knife into the thickest portion of the fillet. If the blade is hot to the touch when it comes out, the fish is ready to come off the grill. You can also press lightly on the top of the fillet—it should be firm and slightly springy beneath your fingers.
- Always allow the cooked fish to rest for at least five minutes before serving.
Grilled Monkfish with Lemon and Dill
- 2 pounds monkfish fillets, cleaned*
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped and divided
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon wedges, for serving
*Be sure to remove the membranes from the monkfish fillets before you start to cook. If you’d prefer, you can start with a whole monkfish and do the filleting yourself. This should provide you with plenty of leftovers to freeze for later use. Take a look at this video tutorial for a visual guide on how to skin and fillet a monkfish.
1. In a medium nonreactive bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon dill. Slowly whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream until the mixture is well-blended.
2. Place the fish in a wide, shallow container. Pour the marinade over the fillets and turn them once to ensure that they’re fully coated.
3. Marinate the fish in the refrigerator for two hours, turning the fillets over after the first hour. It’s important not to leave it in the marinade for too long, or the fish will be have an unpleasantly mushy texture when it’s cooked.
4. Remove the monkfish from the marinade and allow the excess to drip off. Sprinkle the fillets with most of the remaining dill, reserving about 1 teaspoon for garnish.
5. Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. If you opt to use a pellet grill, the temperature should be set at about 400 degrees.
6. Grill the fillets, turning once and basting occasionally with the marinade, for about 10-12 minutes total. Be careful not to overcook it—because monkfish is so lean, the flesh dries out easily.
7. Remove the fish from the heat and arrange on a serving platter. Let rest for 5 minutes while you assemble the side dishes.
8. Garnish the monkfish fillets with the remainder of the fresh dill and serve with lemon slices.
And there you have it—the ideal recipe for grilled monkfish with lemon and dill. Enjoy!
Related article: Grilled rockfish recipe