Monkfish Liver on Toast

Toast de Foie de Lotte

[Monkfish Liver on Toast]

I had purchased a can of foie de lotte at the Salon Saveurs last spring, and it had been quietly sitting in our kitchen cabinet ever since, waiting for its turn to get a little attention. We finally opened it for a quick and easy lunch recently, spreading the chunks of liver on freshly toasted bread — just like we used to when I was a child and foie de morue (cod liver) on toasts was an occasional Saturday lunch treat.

Monkfish liver is sometimes referred to as le foie gras de la mer (foie gras from the sea), and quite rightly so if you ask me. The similarity between those two distant cousins is pretty striking : same pale orangey pink color, same soft texture, same peculiar earthy flavor, same sweetness at the back of your mouth.

Monkfish liver turns out to taste very much like cod liver, just a tad more subtly flavored, and is extremely enjoyable on the warm and crispy slice of bread, topped with just a squeeze of lemon and a grind of pepper.

One important thing I cannot stress enough : do not dump the leftover fish oil in the sink, under penalty of having to live with that smell for a week at least. And as much as I adore fish liver for lunch, breakfast is an entirely different matter.

  • Hey, I love fish for breakfast – I had some smoked mackerel this morning, in fact. But then again, I also like cold pizza and leftover Mexican food for breakfast…

  • hi clotilde,

    I haven’t had monkfish liver for so long! I have never thought of it on toast, but it actually sounds good. It’ll make nice accompaniment for full-bodied white wine, too.

  • I’ve often wondered why it’s called monkfish instead of, say, horrifying-face-sucker-devil-fish. But then I guess that wouldn’t fit on a cute little tin of foie gras de la mer! (Seriously, that fish creeps me out.)

  • Michael

    Actually, the Dutch name for Monkfish loosely translated into English is “Sea Devil” and I agree it’s not a pretty sight.

    The name Monkfish presumably has to do with its head being depressed into its body, a bit like a hooded monk.

    It’s also sometimes called Anglerfish, because of its Latin name, Lophius Piscatorius.

    Judging L. Piscatorius by its looks would be a mistake, it’s delicious either steamed or baked. I don’t care for the liver though.

  • i just wanted to add my two cents as i happen to love monkfish liver! in japanese cuisine, it’s called “ankimo.” and the local japanese fishmonger told me to prepare it this way, and it’s melt in your mouth delicious! first of all, the monkfish liver is first sprinkled in salt for a little while, and then rinsed off with japanese cooking wine or “mirin.” then it is wrapped in plastic wrap with the ends twisted to shape the liver into a sausage-like roll. next, wrap in aluminum foil, and then poke holes through the wrapped liver with a bamboo skewer. then steam for 15-20 minutes. when it’s cool enough to handle, the whole package is unwrapped, the log shaped liver cut into slices and it’s served with ponzu sauce, or personally, soy sauce and lemon juice will do just fine. you can also put a bit of grated daikon radish on it or a bit of finely chopped green onion. of course, i eat this over japanese short grain rice.

  • Mam

    Is it smoked liver, like the codliver (imported from Danemark) we used to eat on toast ? It was quite an experience to open the can and throw the oil away in a plastic bag to avoid the smell in the kitchen and on my fingers !The French name for Monkfish is Lotte which perhaps comes from the latin name Lophius mentionned by Michael.

  • Luisa

    At the risk of sounding like an environmental goody two-shoes, you shouldn’t be dumping any kind of oil in your kitchen sink, as it goes into the ground water and does all sorts of nasty things to it. Instead, you can keep a empty jam jar into which you pour your used cooking oil, or oil from tuna cans or monkfish liver cans. When the jar is full, you can throw it in the trash. With the cap screwed on tightly you smell nothing while you’re waiting for the jar to fill up (admittedly, this is not a pretty sight, but that’s what cupboards under your sink are for!) and you keep your city’s water clean… ;)

  • Rick

    Hi Clotilde
    I’ve been reading your worderful blog at the rate of about a month’s worth a day, and today I caught up.
    I wish you weren’t so camera shy, but from the few pictures of yourself you’ve posted, you are the perfect Marianne: young, smart, beautiful, and creative.
    Your blog will be my first online goal every day.

  • Hi Clotilde, I’ve just blogged about cod liver (foie de morue) on my blog (here), and spotted this article of yours. I’m curious – when you say that you used to have cod liver on toast in the past, was it on the same way (au naturel) as on the photo above, or did you do anything with the canned liver??

    • Hi Pille, no, we didn’t do anything in particular to the canned liver. We just ate it as is. A drop of lemon juice is nice, but other than that, au naturel is good!

      • Thank you, Clotilde! I’ll dry the au naturel with a squirt of lemon juice next time!

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