Roasted monkfish with fennel

Photograph: Emma Jervis

Photograph: Emma Jervis

Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 06:00

  • Serves: 4
  • Cooking Time: 60 mins
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: French


  • (Serves four)
  • 2 Big cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 900g Monkfish tail on the bone, skinless weight
  • 3 Large fennel bulbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • 1 Lemon
  • Pernod/Pastis
  • Fresh fennel or dill if available


1. About 30 minutes before you plan to eat, heat your oven to the hottest temperature and heat a flame-proof roasting tray or oven-proof frying pan that will take the fish snugly. If your pan is too big the fennel will burn.

2. In the meantime, chop the garlic with the fennel seeds and put into a mixing bowl along with just enough oil to make it into a paste adding some salt. Let this stand while you prepare the fish.

3. Take a fish knife (as the blade is thin and flexible) and patiently remove all the thin membrane that is left on the fish, trying not to remove any meat. this membrane can be bitter and does not look pretty (grey) when the fish is cooked. This will take a few minutes to do but it will be worth it!

4. Take your knife and make some slits all over the fish and push a little of the garlic and fennel paste into each one, using it all up as you go, rubbing any remaining oil over the fish

5. Slice the fennel thinly, length ways.

6. Remove your hot tray or pan from the oven, drizzle a little oil on it making sure you coat the centre of the pan, follow by piling on the sliced fennel, adding a little salt as you go. Then place the fish on top and return to the oven.

7. Zest and juice the lemon and chop the zest fine.

8. Roast until done! About 15 minutes is a guide as it depends on thickness. You can check this by inserting a knife in the thickest part, the middle of the tail by the bone, and checking if the meat is cooked through. If it’s just a little underdone, do not return it to the oven as it will continue to cook in its heat and sauce. Remove the fish to a warm serving plate and cover to keep warm.

9. Place the pan on the hob and put on a medium flame, bring to the boil, scraping the pan as you go. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and a good splash of Pernod to make a sauce by bringing it to the boil .

10. After a minute (the alcohol will have cooked out and the flavours blended) pour the contents of the pan over the monkfish, letting the fennel stay where it lands and sprinkle with the chopped herbs.