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Chef Thomas Keller’s Pan-Roasted Monkfish Tail Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

“I love monkfish. It’s one to those fish that is firm in flesh and very meaty and lends itself incredibly well to roasting.” - Chef Thomas Keller, of Napa Valley’s Yountville restaurants Bouchon, Ad Hoc, and The French Laundry, and New York’s Per Se.

This elegant recipe marries monkfish with beurre rouge, a red wine butter sauce. If that sounds unusual, that’s because it is: White wine sauces or a squeeze of lemon juice with extra virgin olive oil and black pepper are more common with seafood, but beurre rouge is a beautiful match for the cooking technique used for the monkfish. The richness and intensity of the sauce can be adjusted by modifying the amount of butter you use. While the reduction for the beurre rouge can be made in advance, the sauce should be emulsified with the butter just before serving.

Prior to pan-roasting, Chef Keller trusses the monkfish using a slipknot technique he learned during his days as a Boy Scout. He does this so that the meat will stay on the bone, though he stresses the importance of trussing gently so as not to damage the meat. It will also make the trussing easier to remove when you’re ready to serve. If you can’t find monkfish tail or monkfish fillet, Chef Keller suggests another firm and meaty fish, such as sturgeon, swordfish, or striped bass (these fish do not need to be trussed because their flesh does not need to stay attached to bone or cartilage). Learn how to truss a monkfish here.



Chef Thomas Keller’s Monkfish Recipe


  • 1 bone-in monkfish tail section that is uniformly consistent in circumference, trimmed, skin removed
  • Canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, skin on, lightly crushed
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 50 grams unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
  • 4 sprigs chervil
  • Beurre rouge
  • Maldon sea salt


  • 12-inch cast-iron skillet
  • Fish spatula
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Cooling rack set over a sheet pan
  • Heat-safe bowl
  • Plating spoon
  • Kitchen towels
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the cast-iron skillet over high heat and generously cover the bottom of the skillet with canola oil. Season the trussed monkfish with salt on both sides. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the monkfish, bone side up, to the pan to sear. Cook monkfish. After about 30 seconds, reduce the heat to medium-high. After 2 minutes, once the fish is well browned, use the fish spatula to rotate the fish on its edge, balancing it against the side of the skillet. After 1 minute, rotate the fish to brown the opposite edge, again balancing it against the side of the skillet.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and transfer the monkfish to the cooling rack set over a tray. Pour the oil from the skillet into a heat-safe bowl. Return the skillet to the stove and add a fresh layer of canola oil. Add 2/3 of the butter and return the fish, bone side down, to the skillet. Add the garlic and thyme onto the top of the fish. Add the remaining butter and return the heat to medium-high. Baste the monkfish with the butter for approximately 30 seconds then place it in the oven.
  3. Roast the fish in the oven until the monkfish is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. The fish is cooked when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish registers 135°F.
  4. Remove the fish from the oven and baste a few more times. Transfer the fish to a cooling rack set over a sheet pan, spoon the butter over the top of the fish, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. With the monkfish bone side down, remove the twine with kitchen scissors. Place the monkfish on a paper towel on the cutting board to drain. Use a chef’s knife to carve the monkfish tail along the bone, creating two long pieces of fish. Place each piece of fish, cut-side down, on a paper towel to wick away additional moisture. Trim the ends of the fish and cut each piece in half. Season with Maldon salt.
  6. Spoon beurre rouge in the center of each serving dish and top with a piece of monkfish. Garnish with a sprig of chervil.

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