Monkfish Masala with Red Lentils, Pickled Carrots and Coconut Garnish Recipe

monkfish masala -

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


For the pickled carrots

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon ajwain seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

½ (half) teaspoon onion seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/3 (one third) teaspoon chilli flakes

1 teaspoon salt

vegetable oil – enough to cover the carrots

For the monkfish

300g rock salt

4 x 130g monkfish fillets

4 tablespoons Purnell’s Masala Spice Mix (see page 194)

25g butter

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 chopped coriander

juice of ½ lime


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

To serve

coriander shoots (sprouted coriander seeds), to garnish


For the pickled carrots:

1. Preheat the oven to 90°C/gas mark ¼, or the lowest setting.

2. Spread the carrot slices out on a baking tray and put in the oven overnight, or for 8 hours, until dried out. Pack the carrot slices into a sterilised airtight jar.

3. Mix all the spices and salt with enough vegetable oil to cover the carrots, pour over the carrots in the jar and seal. Leave for a couple of weeks (longer if you can) in a cool place before serving.

For the monkfish:

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

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

3. 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.

4. 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.

For the red lentils:

1. 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.

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

For the coconut garnish:

1. 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.

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

To serve:

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, pickled carrots and coriander shoots.

By Glynn Purnell

Taken from: Cracking Yolks and Pig Tales by Glynn Purnell is published by Kyle Books, priced £19.99. Photography by Laura Edwards.

Solihull born Glynn Purnell started his career at Jessica’s in Edgbaston Birmingham, which was awarded the first Michelin Star given to a Birmingham restaurant in 2005. Purnell now owns award winning restaurants in Birmingham and will be showcasing his talents at the BBC Good Food Show Winter at the NEC Birmingham on 26-29th November 2015.

For a 15% off on BBC Good Food Show Winter tickets, please use the discount code MVW11 during purchase.

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Leyla Preston (597 Posts)

Leyla Preston is the owner and Editor of Motherhood Diaries global magazine for parents. Leyla is a busy mother of two even busier boys; Aron, 8, and Aidan, 7. When Leyla isn’t feeding, managing a gazillion tasks or cleaning the infinite mess at home, she is busy working on this magazine and a new cooking channel coming very soon – no rest for the wicked! You can follow Leyla on Twitter (@M_Diaries) or join the busy Motherhood Diaries Facebook group where all mums get together and share stories and solutions with one another: