It may not be pretty, but it’s pretty tasty: Bacon-wrapped monkfish with mushrooms

March 2, 2007


Let’s see… Ingredients: Delicious lobster-like fish, thin slices of bacon, mushrooms lovingly sautéed in butter and a light lemony butter sauce to finish.

I think we have a winner, folks.

My husband can’t go wrong wrapping things in bacon and putting them on a bed of mushrooms. In fact, I might eat just about anything prepared that way. (Old shoes, dish towels…)

Don’t believe me? Consider the monkfish, this post’s bacon-wrapped, mushroom-topped offering.

Yes, monkfish tastes very good. It’s firm and not fishy, and its flesh carries a subtle sweetness – I’ve heard it described as a poor man’s lobster. So, yes, eating monkfish was not like eating an old shoe. It married well with the earthy and fragrant mushrooms, it absorbed the maple-saltiness of the bacon, and the slightly lemony butter sauce made the whole thing lip-smackingly good.

So, you folks are saying: What’s the problem? Why are you so brave for eating monkfish?

True, monkfish is a fairly benign looking filet when you confront it in your supermarket. There’s some homely gray fish skin and some vein-y white flesh, but nothing to send you screaming in horror. That is, until you encounter the actual monkfish. Whole. On the Internet. Its giant gaping mouth. Its rows of pointy teeth. Its distended, bag-like stomach. Its nasty little angler antennae. My reaction: “THAT is what I ate?”

Now, this horrified response is coming from a Blue Planet lover (the best freakin’ show on cable TV). I love sea creatures, even the ugly ones. It’s just a little much to realize that I just ate the elephant man of the ocean. (I warn you: Click at your own risk.)

Before the bile rises to your throat, consider: I ate that monkfish. And it was damn good. If you start to lose your nerve, remember – it’s going to be wrapped in bacon, sitting on mushrooms and doused with a lemony butter sauce. How bad can it be? I’ll tell you: Not bad at all, friends. Not bad at all. Now, that old shoe on the other hand…

Click here to download the recipe for Bacon Wrapped Monk Fish.


My wife is not kidding about how ugly these fish are. Honestly, we discussed putting a picture up with the food and decided it was a bad idea. I mean I want you to eat this, not have nightmares. Although, it does make you wonder who the first guy was that said, “Wow, I bet that is delicious.”

Well, that guy was right. I love monkfish. The meat most Americans see is from the tail. But I’m not shocked. These fish are really three things — jaws, stomach and tail. Also, compared with most fish, the meat is odd-looking because it isn’t the common rows of muscles you see on a salmon or tuna. It is a series of what look like 5 long muscles that run down the length of the filet. When you cut into it, it looks more like a bungle of wires than what most people associate with fish.


From a cooking standpoint, I feel it’s one of those easy to cook and hard to destroy pieces of fish. It has a meaty texture more commonly associated with lobster. And it lacks the oil and pungency of fish such as salmon. If you have a person in your house who doesn’t like fish, this is a good starter fish for them.

This recipe really has two separate pieces that you can divorce from one other. The mushrooms and the fish are really delicious on their own. I added the mushrooms because I wanted the dish to have heavy savory flavors. Without them, the monkfish could play well with several other ingredients or sides.


Finally, if you are watching your waistline, feel free to 86 the addition of the lemon thyme butter. I’ve been playing with lemon thyme a great deal of late. There is something so refreshing about it. So when I made this dish the first time, my wife and I agreed that it needed a light sauce to finish it off. I thought of adding lemon thyme to butter to make a quick sauce, reintroducing the traditional lemon-fish flavor combination. But for the more health-conscious who don’t want to pile fat upon bacon-wrapped fish, skip the butter and add a wedge of lemon to finish it off.


Bacon Wrapped Monkfish w/ Mushrooms
Yield: 2 entree servings/4 appetizers
1 monk fish filet (3/4 to 1 lb)
5 strips bacon
5-6 toothpicks

1 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms (stems removed and chopped)
1 1/2 cup oyster mushrooms (chopped)
1/2 large onion (diced)
2 strips bacon (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
5 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. thyme (just the leaves)
2 tsp. marjoram (chopped)

Lemon Thyme Butter:
1 stick butter
2 tbsp. lemon thyme (chopped)

1. In a large pan over medium high heat, add the chopped bacon. Let it cook until it begins to lightly brown. Add the butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted and has stopped frothing, add the onion and garlic. Liberally season with salt. Turn down the heat after about 1 min. to medium. Let cook for about 4 minutes or until the onions begin to be translucent. Add the thyme, marjoram and pepper. Let cook for another minute, then add the mushrooms. Stir often and let cook for 30-35 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 425F.

3. Beginning with the fat end of the fish, wrap the bacon around the filet. Use toothpicks to hold it in place. I allow the bacon to only slightly overlap on the edges, if at all. I found pushing the toothpick in at an angle gave me best results — and decreased the likelihood the toothpick would break. Once the fish is completely wrapped, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

4. In an oven-safe pan over high heat, add the bacon wrapped filet. Cook for about 3 min per side or until they begin to brown. Once the second side has cooked, place the pan in the oven and cook for 10 min per side. Remove from oven and place on a cutting board to let cool for 5 min.

5. While the filet is cooking in the oven, add the stick of butter in a small pot over medium heat. Once the butter has completely melted and stopped frothing, add the lemon thyme and turn down the heat to keep warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Once the monk fish has rested, slice into 1 1/2’’ slices. Plate over a bed of the mushrooms. Top with your lemon thyme butter. Serve hot and enjoy!


  1. it looks pretty good to me-anything wrapped in bacon is a winner.

  2. i clicked on the link to the monkfish and i am horrified!!! that is a horrible looking fish. however, it did not deter me at all from putting this recipe on my list of things to make next week. yum!

  3. That picture of the monkfish is laughably awful – what an ugly creature! Slate has a feature right now on how to save the world’s ugliest animals (the aye-aye is right up there, and if it were endangered I’m sure they would have included the monkfish). I have to second Elle – I once had the most delicious quail wrapped in bacon. Mmmm…

  4. I love monkfish – its a staple to scaring tourists at the Pike Place fish market in Seattle as well.

    How are your filets when you get them? I am wondering if you had to sorta “force” the monkfish into a cylindrical shape like you have or if your fish came more tubular than not. I am used to getting filets that look like the thickest bottom portion of the cross-section of the filet (see how its split into three like a peace symbol almost? The biggest portion), and I find that when cooking, the fish has a tendency to really bunch up and compact into itself.

    Anyways, another recipe I will be trying soon, thx.

  5. Either you eat the monkfish or the monkfish will eat you!

  6. mmmmm….monkfish. poor man’s lobster. love the idea of pairing it with bacon!

  7. I have this theory that the uglier an animal is, the better it tastes. I mean, really, whose idea was it to go into the sea and pull out a bright red pinching lobster? I mean, I’ve caught them by hand and– let me tell you– it isn’t pretty. Alligator and shark? Both delicious. Now, where can I find some porcupine…

  8. I love your shun knife. Is that the 8″ chefs?

  9. Since the monkfish is so ugly living in the water, it’s only fair that you’ve made it look gorgeous on the plate.

  10. I think you know I’m a big fan of food I could roll around in or bathe in… and bacon is one of those foods. This looks gorgeous, and you’ve even made monkfish look edible. I’ve never been a fan of monkfish, but this looks great — definitely something I’m going to try! This might go well with the white truffle risotto I’m making on Sunday…. hhmmm…..

  11. Um, excuse me, not pretty? It’s WRAPPED IN BACON!!! It might be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen…

  12. Rob — I can understand your admiration for that shun chef’s knife… It is the bomb! And it’s mine, all MINE!

    It’s actually the 6″ chef’s knife, which my husband generously picked out for my small hands… I love it. And, as it turns out, he is SO jealous. It’s lightweight, it has great balance, and most important, it’s razor sharp. Sharper than the nearly 10 year old Wusthof knives that he uses (which are also great knives, they just don’t have a new edge like my knife!). Whenever he needs a surgically sharp cutting tool — he “borrows” my knife. It was great for sawing through the delicate bacon wrapped monk fish without mangling the slices.

    Pardon me if I’ve gone on too long… It’s just love talking!

    Thanks for reading!

  13. This looks incredible… and you were right not to show the monkfish before. In the fishmongers case it is not very appealing, but wrapped in bacon your’s looks fabulous. I think I will try this one for tapas night!

  14. Monkfish looks so mean and ugly, but I agree on its tastiness! the texture is especially interesting… and of course anything or anyone wrapped in bacon is a friend of mine!

    (P.S. someone came to my site from your site & they came from Saudi Arabia! (for me this location is a big deal, I don’t get a lot of readers from non Western places.) So, thank you.

  15. Monkfish reminds of Top Chef, those kids making “eeeeeewwww”! 🙂

  16. I never remember seeing a monkfish before. Wait…with a face like that, I am SURE I’ve never seen a monkfish.

    In face, when God was passing out “looks”, Monkfish must have thought God said “hooks” so Monkfish said, “For pete’s sake! I’m a fish – don’t give me any!”

    Feel free to boo now;)

  17. This looks and sounds delicious. I really enjoy your blog and wanted to thank you for making your recipes pdf files. It so much easier than opening up Word, cutting, pasting and naming my file – you make it so easy and I appreciate it. Now if I could only get MY husband to cook!

  18. hey, just found your blog. the food looks amazing. check my blog out! http://www.thegourmetpig.com . unfortunately, the pictures don’t quite match up.

  19. I’ve been having so much fun looking around your website. The recipes sound wonderful, and your pictures make everything look so appetizing. Thank you for making my tummy growl!!

  20. I had Monk fish for the first time a few months ago and loved it. I now have a nauseating feeling that I consumed a prehistoric sea monster – not a fish.

    Yuck and Yum!

  21. omg thats nasty lol…

  22. Very nice, gives me a lot of inspiration being right in the midst of a redesign. It’s all in the details and comment forms are definitely overlooked more often than not. Time well spent on this post.

  23. how can anything so ugly look so delicious and taste it too thanks

  24. […] I did some research and discovered a tasty-looking recipe from BBC and another version at a nice defunct foodie blog, and bought my first monkfish. I had them fillet the pieces for me, since I don’t know how to […]

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