Monkfish and Prawn Risotto ~ a devilish tail!

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This is in my top five favourites! It’s rich, creamy, filling and flavoursome! It’s almost a one-pan dish and incredibly easy to produce. I use a large cast iron pan or wok, but a good sized saucepan would do the job. I say it is almost a one-pan dish because I choose to cook the monkfish and prawns before adding them to the mix. In this way, I can make sure that the monkfish doesn’t over-cook and that the prawns are also cooked through to the point that they retain the correct texture without becoming ‘rubbery’.

Living here in Portugal we are enormously fortunate to benefit from an abundance of fish and shellfish, offered at very reasonable prices. I was shocked during a recent visit to the United Kingdom by the price of fish and especially prawns of any reasonable size. What is going on there? I buy loose frozen raw prawns, here in Portugal, and can purchase a kilo of these for around €10.00.

While in England, staying with friends, I offered to cook this dish for my hosts; so took myself off to a local ‘superstore’ to buy the ingredients. What an eye-opener! Hold the horses James!!! I would have needed a mortgage to buy the quantities I required to do the meal justice. Monkfish was an equally ridiculous price. Why, I must ask again? I regularly buy both these ingredients, in a European country, in frozen form and cannot understand why the same products are not available at the same, or similar, prices in Britain. I believe it is called – ‘what the market will bear’! I can understand slight variations between countries because of relative trade overheads, but the price differences were so great that I would find that argument hard to swallow. Alas, I did not cook the monkfish and prawn risotto that evening, but promised my friends that I would serve it on their next visit to Portugal.

For this recipe, I use frozen monkfish tails and frozen raw tiger prawns. It always seems quite incongruous to me that such a monstously ugly fish can yield such a delicious meat. The monkfish, sometimes referred to as a frog-fish or a sea-devil is found deep in the waters of the North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean. It is sad that both over fishing and also the method used to catch these fish are endangering future supplies and damaging the marine environment. I must make it my business to know more about the ethos of sustainable fishing. I feel that it is the duty of all mankind dwelling on earth to look after the planet that has been loaned to us. As I am growing simultaneously in girth and years, I find that I am more deeply touched by the seriousness and responsibility that we have for our fragile environment. For the time being, I will resist the role of a pontiff and return to the tail and tale of my ugly fish!


Imagine taking a dip in the ocean and coming across this fellow!

It is certainly easy to see why this creature is known as the ‘devil’ of the sea, with its pointed needle-like teeth that slope inward to trap unsuspecting prey. This is a great example of not judging a book by its cover, because the meat is dense, sweet and very similar in texture to lobster.


Pan-fry to soften the vegetables.


Add the wine, stock and risotto rice.


Add the monkfish and then the prawns. Stir through the cream and simmer for a couple of minutes.


Et voila!!


Monkfish & Prawn Risotto

Prep Time: 1 Hour Cooking Time: 50 Mins Total Time: 1 Hour 50 Mins


  •  2 x Monkfish tails, remove the meat from the central bone, remove the ‘sacking’ and cut into chunks
  • 800g shell-on raw tiger prawns (shelled)
  • 1 tbsp spoon of olive oil + a knob of butter for pan-frying the monkfish and prawns.
  • Sea salt
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 leeks thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cups of fish stock
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 300g Arborio Risotto rice
  • Water, as required
  • 250/300ml of cream
  • Parsley to garnish


  1. Thaw the prawns and the monkfish.
  2. Remove the shells from the prawns and the sack running along the spine – it’s a slimey and laborious job, but worth it!
  3. With a sharp knife, remove the monkfish meat off the central bone and also remove any membrance. Cut into chunks.
  4. Pan fry the prawns in the oil + butter. A twist of sea salt is good! They will turn from grey to pink. Once cooked through, remove and set aside.
  5. Pan fry the monkfish, it will turn from translucent to white. Be careful not to over cook it. Again a twist of sea salt is good. Set aside.
  6. In a large pan, add about 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add the garlic, leeks, red pepper, and celery. Add salt and pepper. Saute until softened a little.
  7. Add the wine and cook on a ittle more.
  8. Add the risotto rice and the fish stock. As the rice absorbs the juices, add more water as necessary. Keep tasting!
  9. When the rice is cooked, add the prawns and the monkfish. Then stir through the cream and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
  11. The cooking times are approximate, because it takes time to peel the prawns and, if it is the first time you have peeled raw prawns, it can be a very slow job!

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1 Comment

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