Monkfish and clams with roasted almonds, rosemary and aïoli

Monkfish and clams with roasted almonds, rosemary and aïoli

A Year In My Kitchen

In France, monkfish is known as poor man’s lobster. Plump, white and firm, with only a backbone, it is easy to fillet and its meaty texture works well in fish stews. Here you can use mussels or prawns instead of clams, perhaps adding a handful of black olives, or leaving out the almonds… it’s up to you. I serve it with garlicky sourdough toast and a leafy salad dressed with lemon and olive oil.


Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
25 saffron threads
250ml boiling water
2 fennel bulbs
2 dried red chillies
4 rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
250ml dry white wine
2 x 400g cans good quality chopped tomatoes
75g blanched almonds
1kg monkfish, skinned, filleted and cut into generous chunks
40 clams, scrubbed clean

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
4 slices sourdough bread
1 garlic clove, halved
or rosemary and almond aioli


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat, then add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook gently for about 5 minutes until soft. Put the saffron in a small bowl, pour on the boiling water and set aside to infuse. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the fennel. Slice off the base and remove the fibrous outer leaves, then finely slice lengthways and add to the onions. Crumble in the dried chillies and add the rosemary, bay leaves and garlic. Cook for a further 10 minutes until the fennel has started to soften.
  3. Now add the sherry vinegar, white wine and saffron together with its water. Allow the liquor to bubble away for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes. Give the mixture a good stir, turn down the heat and cook gently for 20 minutes or so. The flavours need time to adjust to each other.
  4. In the meantime, lightly toast the almonds on a baking tray in the oven for 3–4 minutes to release their flavour. Coarsely grind the toasted nuts, using a pestle and mortar, or blender.
  5. Stir the nuts into the tomato mixture – they give the dish a lovely textural quality as well as a delicious nutty flavour. Check the seasoning… you will definitely need to add salt and pepper. (The dish can be prepared ahead to this point.)
  6. About 5 minutes before serving, bring the tomato mixture to the boil. Add the monkfish and clams and simmer for 4 minutes or until the clams have opened and the monkfish is firm to the touch and white in colour. Discard the herbs.
  7. Meanwhile, grill the bread on both sides and rub with the cut garlic clove. Serve the fish stew with the toast, a bowl of garlicky aïoli and a simple salad.
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