Saturday, 23 January 2010

On Monkfish Liver

About two years ago I aquired a small tri-lingual pamphlet entitled 'Five Recipes with Monkfish liver' At the 6 Euros it cost me that works out 2 Euros per language, or 1.2 Euros a recipe. At face value not the best deal in the world but where else do you find 5 recipes for monkfish liver easily and in a tri-lingual edition?
It is part of a small range of pamphlet like 'books for misanthropists' written by Victor Nubla. Other books in his range include 'An Essay Against the Wheel' and 'A Study of Breaks' I don't know if they are also in Catalan, Spanish and English but you can ask him yourself by using the contact section of his website here
Mr Nubla comes from the neighbourhood of Gracia in Barcelona. Once home to unrepentent anarchists it is now becoming increasingly gentrified; the anarchists utter disgust at this was recently expressed to me by a few of them over foie gras and very good port. Mr Nubla, it seems from his internet presence, forms part of the old vanguard holding onto the ways of pluralism, defence of culture, excellent food for pleasure over pretense, and a strong desire to do things primarily for fun rather than money. I have number 360 of 500 of the first edition of 'Five Recipes With Monkfish' and I don't imagine the author is planning on retiring on the royalties anytime in the near future.
In his introduction he explains that while the taste is not very diferent to other fish the size of the liver means that it can be used for a whole dish and that his book is a result of the "romance" he has had with this foodstuff for the past few years. He also warns the reader that his book is not suitable for
"1. Those who don't eat animals
2. Those who eat animals providing the orginal taste goes unnoticed or the taste is not overpowering."

In idiosyncratic, albeit correct, English he takes you by the hand and guides you through his recipes giving you a new found respect for liver, offal, fish, food writing and almost all that is good about life. I say almost all as he doesn't mention wine, except in passing, or any carnal activity that is generally conducted in private .
Below is one of his recipes, with a couple of notes in brackets. His website is

Roasted Monkfish Liver
"The wintery feeling about this recipe has probably to do with its austerity and its rich-resulting colours. It was a total event to discover that monkfish liver endured a test like this one.
We will stick to the claypot and this time will be generous with the oil [he's a Gracia Anarchist. He means Extra Virign olive oil. There is no other kind for him] in which we will allow for two unpeeled cloves of garlic per person, to which we have made a slit with a knife, so they don't pop, and a teaspoonful of paprika [if you can get nyora pepper ground one of them instead as it's nyora in the recipe in Catalan]. We'll also add some sprigs of thyme and, when the oil is smoking hot carefully place the fillets of liver and discover that they don't stick. Such a magnificent experience will bring back our self-confidence and tempt us to add a small glass of white wine. The flame should be moderate and it's a good idea to flip the fillets over so they roast thoroughly. We will allow for the wine to evaporate and will serve the fillets together with the garlic.
One day we accompanied these roasted fillets with wine and a dense reduction of tomato and carrot that Lo Casino prepared and that, I'm told, is used for 'ossobucco'. It was a great success."

The number of people you can cook for is of course completely dependent on the size of the liver and as monkfish vary greatly in size you need to get it first to decide. The point of Mr Nubla's book is to extend his passion for monkfish liver to the reader and encourage him/her to cook and eat it rather than to be a slave to his recipe and his ideas. So please go forth and get thy monkfish liver.