Monkfish in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Ginger Spinach

I have a few of those days every now and again, when just one of the things required in setting up the business takes longer than it should and sets me off. Juggling all this together, plus handing in notice to move out and start house-hunting again, oh and the wedding, does result in some pondering, and hair-pulling, and occasional tear-fests. One such day, I was sitting on the couch and mulling over options should my macaron project turn out to be a monster that never rose after annihilating all my motivation, spirit and confidence. N&D very sweetly made me my favourite banana and chocolate chip bread and told me about an opening for a Wild Monkey Trainer at the London Zoo. Lost for options, I decided to give it a crack. I mean, it’s either that or banking, right? Oddly enough, I got the job and was pushed into a cage on my first day with more than fifty of these gnarly monkeys, of all sizes and all colours, all staring at me with their beady, glowing red eyes. And then, within what seemed like a split-second, all of them were all over me grabbing at my tee-shirt, my shorts, my hair and my hands. And then, after what seemed like a micro-nano-split-second, they were all on my left foot, gnawing right through to the bone.

At this point I woke up grabbing my foot, rolling around in the bed in agony, drenched with sweat. That was a nightmare that actually transcended into reality as there was nothing “dreamy” about the pain in my left toe. It was as though someone pushed a pitchfork through it and kept twisting it. Over and over again. I hobbled along to the bathroom and saw that the toe had ballooned into a red angry-looking demon that was burning in the fire of hell. It was SO HOT. Brushing it off as a freakish incident and in the hope that it was going to go back to normal within a few hours I tried limping about my day but the pain was excruciating. So I started googling, and I did some proper hard googling. All my symptoms pointed towards gout – a rich, over-indulgent, alcoholic middle-aged man’s arthritic disease.

N&D piggy-backed me over to the surgery the next morning where the doctor very observantly noted that I wasn’t quite fitting into the obese-wino forty-five year old male category but he did say that if the disease is prevalent in the family then I may very well have inherited it. Yay. Thanks mum and dad. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t wear socks or shoes. Even the piggy back ride wasn’t as comfy as it should’ve been as my foot was flopping around. So what can I do about this? Have blood tests of course. LOTS of them. It took me an hour to calm my nerves down and stop shaking to have my blood taken, being the big wuss that I am when it comes to needles.

So while I wait for the blood test results, I’m on some serious anti-inflammatory medication while being completely couch-bound this entire week. I’ve watched a lot of Top Chef re-runs (I want to be Padma’s best friend), I’ve gone through a lot of meerkats at, and I’ve read Hello!, OK, Heat, Glamour, Brides, Asian Bride, Conde Nast, and Vogue for this month. It would be really uncool to be all gouty at my hen-do next week in New York City with my bridesmaids, or even at the wedding, so I’ve researched a lot on how to avoid these attacks from occurring again. The internet says it has a lot to do with diet and a gouty person should be avoiding foods rich in purines such as seafood, red meat, red wine, spinach and mushrooms. That would mean I’d have to give up this amazingly warming, spicy and tangy monkfish curry and ginger spinach. Just until August I guess.

Monkfish in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Ginger Spinach

Monkfish in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Ginger Spinach (Inspired by Madhur Jaffery)

Monkfish in Spicy Tomato Sauce
4 monkfish fillets, about 150g each
1.25 tsp salt
0.5 tsp red chilli powder
0.25 tsp ground turmeric
8 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
One 400g can of chopped tomatoes
0.5 tsp roasted cumin seeds
0.25 tsp garam masala

1. Pat the monkfish fillets dry with kitchen paper. Marinate them for half an hour in the fridge with 0.25 tsp salt, 0.25 tsp red chilli powder and the turmeric.
2. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
3. Heat half the oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Put the fennel, cumin and mustard seeds in and roast till the mustard seeds pop. Then add in the onions and garlic until the onions brown. Now put in the cumin, 1 tsp salt, and 0.25 tsp red chilli powder. Stir and mix well, and then add in the tomatoes, their juices in the can and the garam masala. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 mins.
4. Heat the rest of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the monkfish and brown on all sides. Do not cook the fish through. Once browned evenly on all sides, smear some of the tomato sauce on a baking tray, place the fish over the sauce, and ladle some more sauce over the fish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.

Ginger Spinach
1kg spinach, cut into 1cm strips
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter
1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, peeled and finely grated
0.25 tsp sugar
120ml water
0.25 tsp garam masala

1. Heat the vegetable oil and butter together in a large pan over medium-high heat. Put in the onions and stir fry till browned.
2. Add in the green chilli, ginger, salt, and sugar and mix well. Put in the spinach and keep stirring till wilted, for about 5 mins. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover tightly, turn heat to low and cook for 10 mins. Uncover and boil away excess liquid.
3. Mix in the garam masala.

2 Responses to “Monkfish in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Ginger Spinach”
  1. Shannon Woods says:

    We are having a feast tonight of freshly caught Striped Bass (Rockfish)from the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. I found your recipe and think it will work quite nicely for my precious filets, with just a few modifications. I plan to sauté the spinach with onion, ginger, fennel root and chopped tomato in olive oil, make a bed in the roasting pan of this mixture, quickly brown the filets in butter and put the on top of the spinach bed, add white wine, cover with foil and finish in a moderate oven until the fish is flaky. Hope it turns out well. Thanks for your inspiration!

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