Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lotte or Baudroie - Monkfish. Monkfish on French Menus.

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Monkfish are one of the tastiest sea fish.
In France monkfish are so popular that the variety of dishes created especially for this fish are endless.
Grilled monkfish.
Photograph courtesy of Stu_Spivack.
Lotte, Lotte de Mer, Gigot de Mer, Diable de Mer, Baudroie, Baudroie Commune  - The Angler Fish, Monkfish or Goosefish; monkfish is the name most often seen on English language menus.  Monkfish is one of the tastiest of all sea fish with succulent, very firm, very white meat; on French restaurant menus I would place monkfish as number two out of the top ten in sea fish popularity. 
    Apart from this fish’s meat, all of which come from its tail, its cheeks and liver have always been considered a Provencal  and Japanese delicacy; now the monkfish’s cheeks are also growing in popularity in the rest of France and they will be on the menu as joues de lotte or joues de baudroie.
Monkfish tangine.   
Photograph by  courtesy of anjuli_ayer,
    N.b. On some restaurant menus there may be another fish called lotte or lote de rivière ; this is a freshwater fish.  In English this fish is the burbot and while it cannot compete with the monkfish it is a meaty fish; by the lakes and rivers where they are caught in France they will be on the menu. The burbot may look somewhat like a catfish, but it is a freshwater member of the cod family. If the menu is not clear ask.
    Blanquette de Joues de Lotte, Soufflé de Légumes de Saison et Riz. - A stew made with the cheeks of the monkfish served with a soufflé made with the season’s vegetables and rice.
    A blanquette is a stew originally created for white meats, that is: rabbit, lamb, pork and veal; today a blanquette will often be seen with fish.  Blanquette  recipes usually include mushrooms and white wine in  a cream or crème fraiche sauce. Now that the cheeks of the monkfish have begun to be enjoyed outside of Provence they may be on your menu; they taste somewhat similar to scallops with a different texture. The renewed popularity of monkfish cheeks in the north of France where they were originally ignored has sent the prices up. Additionally the popularity of monkfish cheeks has brought the cheeks of many other fish into contention. Other menus show that French chefs are experimenting with cod cheeks, tuna cheeks and more.
Pan roasted monkfish.
    Bourride de Baudroie - Provence’s most popular and famous monkfish stew, often flavored with saffron; monkfish are the only fish in the bourride de baudroie. The Bourride de Baudroie is traditionally a large stew a so you may pass on any hors d’oeuvres or entrees unless you are really very hungry. The only fish in this stew are the monkfish; the rest of the stew is vegetables and, of course, plenty of garlic flavor and aioly or garlic mayonnaise. Depending on the chef this stew will be accompanied by potatoes and usually additional aïoli, garlic mayonnaise or a rouille sauce with garlic toast will be on the side. For more about fresh mayonnaise in France see my post: Mayonnaise Fraise - Fresh Mayonnaise.
Monkfish in safaron.
Photograph by courtesy of horax zeigt hier
Lotte de Quiberon  Rôtie, Risotto Carnaroli  aux Cèpes Français   Roasted  monkfish from the area of Quiberon in Bretagne, Brittany,  accompanied by a risotto made with the Italian carnaroli rice and French porcini mushrooms.
When I saw this menu item I wished that I had been able to order it right there and then; all the parts of the dish offered are special, and when offered with a carnaroli rice risotto they become unique. The fish and seafood from Bretagne are considered among the very best in France and so their origin will be noted on many menus; however, here the chef is indicating a specific place and so for the cognoscenti Quiberon must be a very special source for monkfish. Monkfish are also one of the few fish that really can be roasted and that alone would make this dish special. Quiberon is a peninsula on the southern coast of the département of Morbihan and apart from its fishing industry and oyster and mussel farms Quiberon  is a very popular summer holiday vacation spot for the French.  In July and August do not even think about looking for a free hotel room; the hotels are often booked up to one year in advance.  The carnaroli rice used for the risotto is the rice that 99% of all Italian and French chefs will agree is unbeatable where risotto is concerned. The Arborio and Baldo rices may be better known, but carnaroli rice which comes from the same part of Italy as the Arborio and Baldo is accepted as even better.  Here the risotto is made with those very tasty French porcini mushrooms; what could be better.  French porcini mushrooms are equally tasty family members of the better known Italian porcini mushrooms. For more about the French porcini mushrooms see my post: The Cèpe, The Porcini Mushroom Grows Wild in France.
Grilled monkfish on lentils, 
    Photograph by courtesy of  Kake.

   Lotte Rôtie, Bouillon de Homard aux Herbes Fraîches, Rattes Safranées et Brunoise de Légumes.  A roasted cut of monkfish served in a lobster bouillon accompanied by saffron flavored ratte potatoes and vegetables cut in the brunoise manner.
    Ratte potatoes are one of France’s favorite potatoes and their name actually does mean a rat a or a mouse; however, that is nothing to do with their taste. Their name indicates that some can be considered a modern art version of a rat or a mouse when they are as yet uncut and uncooked. Brunoise is one of the ten or more special French cuts used for the shapes and sizes of vegetables and some fruits; a vegetable cut brunoise denotes a cut about 2mm thick.
Smoked Monkfish 
Photograph by courtesy of  boo_licious
   Ragoût de Queue de Lotte aux Légumes de Saison et sa Crème aux Huîtres -  A stew of monkfish tail prepared with the season’s vegetables in a cream  of  oyster sauce. For more about ordering oysters in France see my post: Ordering, Eating, and Enjoying Oysters in France Oysters I and Huitres - Oysters II. How Fresh Oysters, in France, are Sold by Weight

A whole monkfish.      
Photograph by courtesy of alistairas.
Only rarely will you see a whole monkfish in a fish market as there is no meat on the body and its head is quite ugly; apart from its tail, cheeks and liver there is nothing to sell to most customers; the fishmonger will sell the head and body for those who are making fish stock.

Monkfish tails.
The meaty tails mostly weigh over one kilo, 2.2 lbs, and will be sold skinned; the cheeks and liver will both be sold separately and that is often to restaurants.  Monkfish livers may, however, may not be on too many menus as their price has risen very year, over the last few years;  the demand from Japan has created a very active export market. (German -  seeteufel  or angelfisch), (Italian - coda di rospo, rana perscatrice or diavolo di mare),  (Spanish – lophius  or rape,)
Bryan G, Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 1013.
For information of the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman