Poached monkfish with saffron and brown shrimps

2 Put the fish into a bowl with the juice of half a lemon and a glass of white wine. Marinade for 20 minutes, remove the liquor and put this into a deep pan.

3 Trim the leeks.

4 Poach the leeks in the white wine and lemon for 5 minutes. Remove the leeks when cooked and keep warm.

5 Sprinkle a few threads of saffron on to the fish.

6 Add another glass of white wine to the liquor, bring to a simmer, and place in the monkfish. Cover and cook until the fish is just cooked. Remove and keep the fish warm.

7 Add the cream to the cooking liquor. Bring to the boil and reduce by half.

8 Add the butter and return to the boil. Simmer until the butter has melted and the sauce is shiny and smooth.

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9 Spoon in the brown shrimps.

10 Slice the monkfish.

11 Place the monkfish on to the leeks, spoon on the sauce.

Poached monkfish with saffron and brown shrimps

This month Richard Hughes of  The Lavender House in Brundall serves up a rather grand fish dish.

As the month of March can be a little dull I’ve decided to do a more spectacular dish this month, one that would be at home in any dinner party or even in a restaurant setting. Using some quite grand ingredients, monkfish, saffron and a classic butter sauce, it’s sure to brighten up your table.

Nowadays, monkfish is one of the more expensive fish that you can buy, but offers good value for money as there is very little wastage for its preparation. Years ago the fishmongers couldn’t sell it, mainly due to its appearance (it has the most grotesque head!), and it was often used as a substitute for scampi. Today it’s one of the most sought after fish, and, married with the first of the season’s leeks and the beautiful colours, fragrance and flavour of the saffron, makes a real statement.

The best saffron in the world comes from Spain, though much of it comes from Pakistan, Morocco and parts of Egypt. It’s seen as something very exotic, but, years ago, they would produce it commercially at Saffron Walden. You can grow the crocus like flowers on your windowsill. However, if you’re thinking of going into production, think again. Each flower produces three stamens, and it takes a football field full of flowers to produce 400g, with each pick being harvested by hand. You can see why it costs around �50 for 25g.

Thankfully a very small pinch goes a long way, and maybe, just maybe, it may make us feel as though spring is just around the corner!

Richard is the chef proprietor of The Lavender House Restaurant at Brundall. He holds regular cookery demonstrations and suppers at the restaurant. Call 01603 712215 for more details.


Serves four

Approximately 1kg monkfish filletPinch saffron threads250ml white wine16 baby leeks or spring onionsJuice half a lemon100ml double cream200g butter100g peeled brown shrimps or prawns

1 Trim the monkfish of any sinews.