Monkfish Tail, Summer Vegetables, Scallop And Shellfish Sauce

This dish, and variations of it, are always a staple favourite on the late Spring and Summer menus of The River Room, featuring as a fish course on tasting menus and sometimes simply with scallops as a starter on the evening menu.

The star of the show is really the complex sauce that brings everything together. Although this dish requires effort, the results are well worth it.

Wine Pairing: Reserve No. 1 Chenin Blanc Unwooded 2014 South Africa

With vineyards situated in the prime Paarl region with varying climatic zones, grapes are hand selected for the Reserve No. 1 Chenin Blanc.

The cool breezes from the nearby Atlantic Ocean from the early afternoon result in cool night temperatures of 15-17 degrees Celsius. Moderate temperature differences allow vines to rest during the night. This combined with the hardy soil type leads to robust ripe fruit flavours.

Deep, bright gold. Super attractive nose with waves of tropical fruits, citrus and honeysuckle backing. Rich and full in the mouth with deep flavours and crisp acidity. All in fresh, youthful mode. Guava, granadilla and some mango with lots of citrus.

Flavours seem to be endless as with everlasting finish making this wine perfect to stand against the delightful sauce in this dish.

This Chenin Blanc shows an exceptional expression of the Chenin Blanc variety. The perfect balance between the prominent litchi fruit and the depth of guava flavours on the palate. The “sur lie” extended lees contact period, adding complexity and a creamy, textured mouthfeel to the wine.

Difficulty hard
Preparation Time (mins)
Cooking Time (mins)
Servings 4
Main Ingredients
  • 8 New Potatoes
  • Prawn or Lobster Shells
  • 2 500g Monkfish Tails
  • 4 Large Scallops with Roe
  • 1 Gem Lettuce
  • 4 Baby Courgettes
  • Globe Artichokes
  • Samphire
  • 1/2 Orange (peel and juice)
  • 1 tsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 stick Celery
  • Star Anise, Garlic Bay Leaf
  • Splash of Brandy
  • 1 Glass White Wine,
  • 300ml Fish Stock.
  • 60ml Cream
  • 50g Butter

Main Instructions
  1. Cut all of the vegetables into small pieces and gently cook in a heavy saucepan, along with the garlic, star anise and bay leaf, until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the tomato puree and continue to cook for a few minutes, then add the wine and brandy with the orange juice and peel.
  3. At this point the roasted shells and scallop roe can be added to the sauce. Simmer for about an hour at a medium heat and pass through a fine sieve. Add the cream and whisk in the butter to create a thick sauce.
  4. I have chosen these vegetables; however, any in-season summer vegetables can be used.
  5. Peel the leaves off the artichokes, then using a peeler trim into shape, scoop out the middle and poach for around 8 minutes in a little water, olive oil and lemon juice. Season and set aside.
  6. Simply cook the potatoes in salted boiling water then with a small sharp knife remove the skins and dress with a little olive oil. Use this water to cook the courgettes for around 3 minutes depending on size.
  7. Cut the gem lettuce lengthways in 4 and wash with the samphire and set aside.
  8. Season and pan fry the monkfish tails in a large hot pan with a little oil until slightly golden. Transfer to a flat tray and place in a low heated oven (80-90c) for around 5 minutes until the flesh feels slightly firm.
  9. Using the same pan, gently cook the scallops. Once cooked, place the scallops beside the monkfish on the tray.
  10. In a small saucepan with a little butter, add the vegetables and the gem lettuce and gently warm through, until the lettuce has wilted, then season to taste.
  11. Remove the fillets on the monk tail with a sharp knife by cutting along the single bone on each side, place each fillet on a plate with the scallops and dress with the vegetables.
  12. Finish with the shellfish sauce.
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