Sautéed Monkfish with Pine Nuts, Saffron, and Tomatoes


Against the Grain

Published by William Morrow

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Monkfish is arguably one of the most unattractive fish in the sea, all head and tail with seemingly nothing in between. Yet for all its ungainliness, it is one of the most delicious fish.

4 servings


Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free


Taste and Texturemeaty, nutty, spiced, winey


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped, with their juices, or 1 cup canned chopped plum tomatoes, with their juices
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed in a mortar
  • 1½ pounds monkfish or other firm-fleshed delicately flavored fish fillets, cut into 2-inch strips
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring, for 6 to 7 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.

  2. Add the saffron and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the monkfish with salt and pepper to taste and sauté for 1 minute on each side. Pour the sauce into the skillet, reduce the heat, and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish is flaky. Remove from the heat and serve.

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