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Can You Eat Monkfish and What Does It Taste Like?

The monkfish has many health benefits for those that eat it. Versatile in the kitchen, there are dozens of different ways to prepare monkfish. Wild monkfish live along the east coast of the United States, especially around Maine and North Carolina.

a monkfish on the seafloor

If you’ve been curious about adding monkfish to your diet, we’re here to help. Read on for some important information on the edibility of monkfish.

Do People Eat Monkfish?

Looking at monkfish, one may not think of it as edible. The gooey, squishy appearance makes many believe that it may not be edible, or at least not tasty. However, monkfish has found its place on more than a few menus worldwide.

fresh monkfish

Monkfish are eaten in many places in the world. In the United States, monkfish tail is often sold peeled or pre-cut into prepared filets. Most grocery stores or fishmongers will have monkfish somewhere in their display, especially when near a coastal region.

Many places hype the monkfish as a delicacy due to its relationship to the angler fish. Many see the fish as exotic and strange because of its intense appearance.

Is it Edible?

Despite its appearance, monkfish is edible. Its appearance, though, is so offputting that many call it the “sea devil,” with grocers going so far as to cut off its head before selling. If not, many sell it upside down.

a fresh monkfish

However, monkfish is completely edible in all forms. Little special preparation is needed, as the fish has no venom.

That said, many consider it an especially bony fish due to its strange shape, so you may want to spend a bit longer picking bones out before throwing the fish into your pan.

That said, you should make sure that you’re purchasing sustainably harvested monkfish. Monkfish recently became listed as ‘endangered’ due to irresponsible fishing practices.

Though the population numbers have recovered, you should still ensure you aren’t supporting irresponsible fishing methods.

What Does it Taste Like?

Monkfish earned the nickname “the poor man’s lobster” due to its flavor and aroma. The fish has a mild, somewhat sweet taste with a lobstery texture, which sets it apart.

delicious cooked monkfish

Monkfish is also known as the “tenderloin of the sea” because of this texture. Flavor-wise, its similarities to lobster help make it a popular substitute for prawns, shrimps, and lobsters.

Is Monkfish Safe to Eat?

Yes, monkfish are entirely safe to eat. Monkfish have no poisons or venoms that should give you pause and are not higher in mercury than the average fish.

delicious dish of monkfish and vegetables

In comparison to other white fish, monkfish is especially low in fat and calories and is considered one of the healthiest, most versatile sources of seafood you can find.

It’s also heavily packed with vitamins and minerals that can help boost immunities and lower the risk of heart disease.

Can You Eat Monkfish Raw?

Monkfish can be eaten completely raw. Doing so can help the texture pop, with monkfish cheeks especially popular for their softer texture and richer flavor. It’s also common to eat the fish cured or as a crudo.

monkfish fillets for cooking

That said, monkfish is much more popular as a cooked fish dish. Primarily, this is due to the unique texture serving as a substitute for lobster and other meatier, more sturdy fishes.

It’s common to find monkfish in curries or stews where the fish can simmer for long periods without falling apart as other fish may.

Final Thoughts

The appearance of the monkfish can put some off, but there’s a healthy, delicious fish waiting for you to enjoy it. Like other anglerfish, it’s pretty ugly, but you’ll love the taste.

While its population was once steadily declining, it now is well out of endangered territory and rests above its target population levels. You should still ensure that you purchase from a grocer that acquired the fish through sustainable means.

With countless health benefits and incredible versatility in the kitchen, the monkfish is one of the most unique and valued fish in your kitchen. Consider checking with your local grocer so you can give this delicious sea monster a try!

Rocco Smith

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