Whole roasted monkfish: the perfect alternative Christmas dinner

Whole fish at Christmas is a great dish to share and easy to cook

Scallops, oysters and langoustines are all great for starters. Photograph: iStock

Scallops, oysters and langoustines are all great for starters. Photograph: iStock

 

Seafood is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of our Christmas dinner, or special meals we eat around the festive period. This is a great pity. The quality of our fish and shellfish is excellent in the winter months due to colder waters which make the flesh firmer and more succulent.

Scallops, oysters and langoustines are all great for starters. Oysters can be opened ahead of time, langoustines baked with a little white wine and lemon and allowed to chill, and scallops are best served sliced thinly and dressed with some oil, citrus and salt. But that’s just to start.

Anyone wanting to get away from the traditional turkey and ham can choose a range of fish for their main course. How about a whole-roasted sea bream with fennel and cider?

This type of dish is quite popular in Spain for Christmas Eve. It’s a simple matter of placing the whole sea bream on top of some sliced fennel and pouring 250ml of cider over the fish. Of course, don’t forget olive oil, salt and acidity to balance the dish. Whole fish at Christmas is a great dish to share and easy to serve.

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Another favourite fish dish of mine to cook at Christmas is whole-roasted monkfish. Like the sea bream, it’s an easy one to prepare. However, I recommend getting your fishmonger to skin the fish for you.

Whole roasted monkfish

Oil and salt the fish and allow it to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Roast at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a core temperature of 55 degrees is reached. This guideline is for a 1.5kg fish. Using a thermometer is the most reliable way of knowing that the fish is cooked.

Remove the fish from the oven and allow it to rest before carving.

While the fish is roasting, make the sauce. Fry some mushrooms (wild if possible) in a little butter until they are soft. Add a splash of brandy and use a lighter to burn off the alcohol.

When the alcohol has burnt off, add 250ml of cream and simmer until it coats the back of a spoon.

Finish with some chopped parsley and pour the sauce over the roasted fish. 

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