Monkfish with Mustard and Cucumber

Here the cucumber is salted and pressed for 2 hours to extract the juices, then squeezed and mixed with a sweet-sour dressing of vinegar and sugar. The resulting salad is a standard accompaniment to gulyas or any rich stew in Hungary. It works well in this dish for the same reason, to cut through and balance the creaminess of the sauce. This is equally good as a first or main course.

Ingredients

  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon caster (granulated) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 125ml (4fl oz/½ cup) fish stock
  • 1 tablespoon double (heavy) cream
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 50g (2 oz/½ stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for frying
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 monkfish tails, about 200g (7 oz) each
  • sunflower oil for brushing salt

Method

Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Mix it with 1 teaspoon of salt and press for 2 hours – placing a small plate and a full jar of marmalade or similar on top will do the job.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, vinegar and pepper. Squeeze as much liquid as you can from the cucumber and toss the slices in the sweet and sour dressing.

Make the sauce by bringing the stock, cream and mustard to a boil then whisking in the butter to thicken. Season with a few drops of lemon juice.

Paint the monkfish fillets with oil and fry in a hot, dry pan until sealed. Add a knob of butter to the pan and continue to fry until done. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the monkfish.

Place the cooked fish onto warm plates, then add the pickled cucumber and, finally, the sauce.

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