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Monkfish Masala with Red Lentils and Coconut Garnish picture

Monkfish Masala with Red Lentils and Coconut Garnish

"Who doesn’t like monkfish?? Really, it’s meaty in a delicate fish form and is used all over; with olives, with bacon, the lot. But it’s big and can hold itself too. The next question- who doesn’t like curry?? So, monkfish and curry- two of my favourites together. This dish works as a starter or as the main event. Also (now this is swearing or blasphemy), the lentils can work as a vegetarian option."

Serves 4
Cooks in
Difficulty Medium
Glynn PurnellMain


For the monkfish

  • 300g rock salt
  • 4 x 130g monkfish fillets
  • 4 tablespoons masala spice mix

For the red lentils

  • Splash of vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mild curry powder
  • 225g dried red lentils
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • ½ red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 heaped tablespoons
  • Salt

For the coconut garnish

  • 400ml can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ fresh coconut, flesh only, thinly sliced into strips on a mandolin


Sprinkle the salt over the monkfish fillets and leave for 5-6 minutes to draw out the moisture.

Rinse the salt off thoroughly under cold running water. Wrap the monkfish in a clean tea towel and leave overnight in the fridge.

Spread out the spice mix on a plate and roll the monkfish fillets in the mixture. Seal each fillet in a vacuum food bag and cook for 11 minutes in a water bath at 63˚C. Alternatively, wrap each fillet in heatproof clingfilm. Heat a saucepan of water until it reaches 63˚C on a cooking thermometer, add the wrapped fillets and cook for 11 minutes, keeping the temperature constant.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat until foaming. Remove the fish from the bags or clingfilm and then sear on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crisp all over.

Heat a splash of vegetable oil in a saucepan and sweat the onion over a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes until softened. Stir in the curry powder, then add the lentils, stir well and cover with the stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

When the lentils are cooked, stir in the chilli, coriander and lime juice and season to taste with salt. Set aside.

Pour the coconut milk into a saucepan and add the lime leaf and salt. Simmer over a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until reduced by half.

Heat a frying pan until hot and toast the coconut strips for about 2 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.

Spoon the lentils onto each serving plate. Carve each monkfish fillet in half and place one piece of monkfish on top of the lentils and the other piece next to them. Drizzle over a bit of the reduced coconut milk, then garnish with the toasted coconut strips and coriander shoots.

Recipe cta

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