Scandinavian Monkfish

Scandinavian Monkfish

Lophius piscatorius – the monkfish – must be the ugliest creature on earth. It is a sea dragon that can grow to a scary 2 meters, and is one of my favorite fish.

Appearance and taste
With its enormous head and cavernous mouth, the monkfish is unmistakable. The central spine is all the bone there is, sandwiched between two fat fillets of pure meat, the consistency of lobster tail and with much the same taste.

Scandinavian Monkfish
Scandinavian monkfish

Three antennas grow on its forehead, and a waving small flag of skin that resembles a shrimp. So the monkfish simply sits on the ocean floor waving the flag to attract smaller and dumber fish into the vicinity of its terrible wide mouth filled with several rows of razor-sharp teeth.

Scandinavian Monkfish
Fillets of monkfish

Culinary  uses
The fish is coated with several layers of strange, slippery skin that has to come off before you cook it – or the fish will end up looking like it’s been tied with rubber bands or yanked inside out. When you are lucky enough to find whole monkfish for sale, the enormous head , which constitutes more than half of the weight of the fish, is wonderful for stock, as are the skin and bones.

Scandinavian Monkfish
Removing skin from monkfish

The boneless fillets are perfect for grilling, roasting or frying like steaks, or can be just heated through in a soup made from the head and bone. The cheeks, which are sold separately, and are relatively cheap, are delicious little nuggets, fine for grilling on skewers or pan-frying, but you must remove all the membranes or they will look really strange when cooked.

Feature image (on top): Catching monkfish (Photo:

Scandinavian Monkfish, written by Tor Kjolberg