Monkfish Information

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The monkfish, known variously as the goosefish, anglerfish, or "allmouth," is a large, ugly, benthic (bottom-dwelling) fish found in the coastal Atlantic area. Its size ranges up to about three feet, and its body is composed mainly of a huge, gaping mouth attached to a muscular tail. The monkfish is an anglerfish; its spine ends in a flexible, extensible cord which it dangles for use as a fishing lure.

Along with the Atlantic monkfish, Lophius americanus, there is also a European version, L. piscatorius, that can be found in northern European waters, especially near the Shetland Islands. Both species are popular as food fish.

Monkfish as Food

The only edible portions of the monkfish are its muscular tail and its liver. The tail meat of the monkfish is delicious: dense, sweet, and very similar to lobster tail meat in both flavor and texture. Like many fish, monkfish is an excellent low-fat, low-cholesterol source of protein and B vitamins. Monkfish liver is quite popular in Japanese cuisine, usually served as sashimi (Ankimo).

I've eaten monkfish myself at The Fish Market in Palo Alto, and it is indeed a fine and tasty fish, especially with a little drawn butter. Unfortunately, monkfish has been overfished in recent times, and as a result is usually difficult to find. I've been able to find monkfish filets at Whole Foods from time to time.

Monkfish Misconceptions

One misconception is that monkfish are related to the angelshark, a benthic shark closely related to rays. One common species, Squatina squatina, is Mediterranean (see the SCUBA diving in Lebanon website), and another (S. californica) dwells in the Pacific (see the angelshark information sheet from Enchanted Learning Software). In fact, monkfish and angelsharks are unrelated; monkfish are true cartiligenous fish, not sharks. Now, what I'm curious about is, does this still mean that monkfish isn't Kosher? (The general consensus on the net seems to be yes, as monkfish do not have discernable scales, and are scavengers.)

Links and References

Because monkfish are both a curiosity—as you might expect a large, ugly, bottom-dwelling anglerfish to be—and a commercially important food fish, there is a variety of information to be found on monkfish on the net.

Here are some websites that mention or have photographs of monkfish, but are not devoted entirely to monkfish per se.

Of course, if those pages are not enough, you can always do a Google search on monkfish. If you have any questions about this page or its author, you can e-mail Andrew Ho or visit Andrew Ho's website.

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