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Monkfish with serrano ham and polenta

Monkfish with serrano ham and polenta
Image | Mike Searle © Copyright | Cornwall Good Seafood Guide

Recipe by

Ken Symons Private Chef

My passion for great Cornish produce has never wavered, championing local artisan producers at every opportunity. I simply love food - cooking, eating and growing. With forty years experience within the restaurant and banquet industry and a wealth of awards behind me, including best westcountry chef and restaurant of the year. 
I now cook privately from 2 to 2000, have knife will travel, from design to execution - in my eyes, consistency is key.

Ken Symons (@kellylhagowl) • Instagram photos and videos

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Ken Symons



For the main dish
4 x 160g monkfish portions  (after being double skinned)
100g sunblushed or semi dried tomatoes 
30g pkt basil
8 slices Serrano or Parma ham 
200g cherry tomatoes on the vine
2 medium courgettes 
Polenta (see below)
Pesto (see below)
For the Polenta
200g polenta
100g unsalted butter 
200g finely grated Parmesan cheese 
Freshly ground black pepper 
500ml water
500ml milk 
For the Pesto
60g basil with stalks
20g spinach leaves (washed)
50g finely grated Parmesan cheese (or hard cheese of choice, Cornish kern from the makers of yarg, works well)
Some Rapeseed oil
30g pine nuts for a classic pesto (hazelnut and walnuts work well, as do almonds)
4 cloves garlic (peeled)
Sea salt 
Freshly ground black pepper.



This restaurant classic is a great way to enjoy Cornish, sustainable, monkfish, a special treat that is delicious and well worth recreating at home. Although it is much quicker to cook than you will expect! 
Serves four
Monkfish is a wonderfully versatile fish, and can be cooked in a variety of ways, it can also be served raw, one fish that it’s livers and cheeks are utilised by many chefs, but one thing that can’t be eaten is it’s skin. When preparing monk it has to be double skinned, initially removing its outer skin then, with a really sharp knife a second membrane and body fat. After removing this your fish should be pure white, your fishmonger will do this for you if you ask.
Cut the monkfish fillet up into chunks.
Take a sharp knife and push through the center of the fish portion lengthways (very carefully), divide the sun blushed tomato into 4 push into the void with basil leaves, repeat with all the portions, roll in the oil from the tomatoes, season with fresh ground black pepper.
Place 2 slices of the preferred ham side by side, place a portion of fish on top and wrap around tightly, place into the fridge for one hour.
Pre heat your oven to 200*c.
Rinse the tomatoes under running cold water pat dry, place into an ovenproof dish, brush with a little oil season with freshly ground black pepper and Cornish sea salt, 
Cut the courgettes in half lengthways, brush with a little oil, season, place onto a preheated grill pan, scorch on both sides, place them in with the tomatoes, cook for 10-12 minutes until soft.
In a hot frying pan, add a little knob of butter, it will foam up, gently place the monkfish in the pan, cook all over until golden, put into the oven for 10 mins, leave to rest for 10-12 mins. Please note monkfish does not need to be cooked for long! 
For the polenta 
Bring to the boil the water and milk, whisk in the polenta, reduce the heat and cook until soft and not gritty,
Stir in the butter, cheese and ground black pepper to taste,
Plate, serve with pesto. Store bought, or see appendix.
For the Pesto 
A Classic Italian staple, pesto is easy to make at home and home-made is so much better as you will find out in this recipe! 
Place the nuts you have chosen into a dry frying pan, place on a gentle heat and roast until golden and the natural oils are released, leave to cool.
In a food processor, put in the basil, spinach, the roasted nuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese 
Bring together in the machine adding the rapeseed oil until a nice consistency is acquired, season with the salt and pepper, this can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Ken Symons 2020

Monkfish, white

Beam Trawling

Cornwall areas VIIe- h

Caught using heavy beam trawl nets that are dragged over the seabed.

Gill Netting

Cornwall areas VIIe- h

Caught using monofilament tangle nets set on the seabed.

Demersal Trawl

Cornwall areas VIIe- h

A large trawl held open by paravane trawl doors, the open net is then pulled along in contact with the seabed.

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