Humans eat ugly creatures all the time. Just look at a turkey. We take one look at those beady eyes and that stringy, floppy red wattle and think, “Ah, the perfect centerpiece for my holiday feast!” Now, a group of Maine fishermen are encouraging seafood connoisseurs to fry up one of the sea’s ugliest residents: the mighty monkfish.
Maine’s Bangor Daily News reports that monkfish, the gooey, toothy Gulf of Maine bottom-dwellers, are remarkably tasty. The firm fish is a staple ingredient in French bouillabaisse stew; it’s also tasty grilled, braised, or pan-fried. But first, you’ve got to get past the fish’s fearsome appearance. That’s where the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association comes in. The Fisherman’s Association is currently working to grow the local monkfish market, which will help stabilize the price for Maine fisherman. (The fish is subject to large price swings in Europe, where it’s often exported for dishes like bouillabaisse.)
To spread awareness, the Fishermen’s Association is launching a new, frozen, heat-and-serve monkfish stew this week, the Bangor Daily News reports. A few local food stores will offer the frozen stew, which is cream-based with potatoes, veggies, and a hint of cayenne pepper.
The idea for monkfish stew has been brewing (simmering?) since last year, when the Fishermen’s Association used donated funds to buy fish—including monkfish—from fishermen at the dock. The organization donated the fish to local food banks, and the fishermen had a few extra bucks in their pockets to help weather the height of the pandemic.
Would you ladle up a bowl of monkfish stew? I don’t see why not. After all, the fish’s unsettling qualities—namely, the horrible, horrible teeth—are stripped away when the filets are prepared. I mean, most fish look pretty gross before they’re cooked and eaten.
Just be careful next time you dip your toe into the Gulf of Maine, lest a horde of live monkfish exact revenge on ye.