Monkfish tails or stargazer fish are often affectionately known as poor man's lobster and in this recipe you won't be disappointed that you are not eating lobster at all.
With boneless fish fillets, stuffed with lemon slices, wrapped in bacon and baked in the oven, this is a luxurious, healthy dish that is perfect for special occasions, such as Christmas Eve.
This dish is also easy to prepare in advance, giving you more time to relax and have fun!
What is poor man's lobster?
This is a term, predominantly given to monkfish, as it is a ground feeder like lobster and has a firm flesh without bones. It has a delicate flavour that is sweet like lobster and holds it's shape without flaking.
It's found all around the British Isles all year long and varieties are also found all over the world with different names, such as:
- stargazer fish - Australia
- all mouth - because the fish has a huge mouth and seems to be all mouth and tail with nothing in between!
- angler fish -US
- lotte - France
- fishing frog
In fact, I actually prefer this fish to lobster and one monkfish tail has so much more meat. Here's why I think that you will love this dish.
- Easy to prepare - there's just one bone to remove.
- Cheaper - approximate cost for lobster is £38 per kilogram and £21 for monkfish.
- Mild, sweet taste that is not overly fishy.
- Holds its shape when cooking.
- Low in fat and full of protein.
There's just a few simple ingredients in this dish.
- Monkfish - a whole tail will normally feed 4 people and it's usually stocked skinned with just the central backbone in place.
- Bacon - smoked and streaky. This helps to keep the fillets together but also keeps the fish juicy. Bacon goes so well with prawns, scallops and white fish and means that there is no need to add more salt to the dish.
- Lemon - A lemon for the stuffing.
- Oil - vegetable oil, olive oil or sunflower oil.
- Pepper - freshly ground black pepper.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Sharp knife
- Large frying pan or skillet
- Oven tray
- Kitchen string
If the fish still has its skin on then use a sharp knife to loosen it and peel it off. There may be fins on the outside but these are easy to slice off.
Place the monkfish on a cutting board and use your fingers to feel for the backbone down the middle.
Start cutting along the length of the bone, trying not to leave any flesh behind. Repeat on the other side of the bone. You will end up with two fillets.
💭 Top tip
- Save a bag in the freezer and put in fish shells and bones as you prepare them. When the bag weighs about a pound or 500g, use to make a fish stock.
Cut the top and base off the lemon with a paring knife and carefully remove the remaining skin.
Cut the lemon into slices and remove any pips.
Lay the slices on the cut side of one of the fillets.
Arrange the bacon on a chopping board, slightly overlapping but with enough to cover the length of the fish.
Season with the pepper then place the other fillet on top.
Wrap the bacon around the fillets then tie at 4cm, 2 inch intervals with string.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sear the fish all over to get a golden colour.
⏲️ Baking time
Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/160 FAN/Gas 4 and bake for 20 minutes.
Leave the fish to rest for 5 minutes, loosely covered in foil, before carving into slices.
Now you can enjoy your poor man's lobster, baked monkfish tails, stargazer fish or whatever you call it where you live!
🥗 Side dishes
- White fish - use 2 fillets of cod, haddock, pollack or hake but make individual parcels instead.
- Bacon - use pancetta or serrano ham for a slightly different flavour.
- Herbs - as well as the lemon add 2 tablespoons of chopped tarragon, basil, parsley or dill.
- Stuffing - rather than sliced lemon try some lightly fried sliced mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes or some baby spinach leaves.
If you have any fish leftover then cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
To reheat, wrap it in foil and heat in the oven.
Monkfish cooks really quickly, like prawns so it's great for easy preparation and quick cooking.
Cut each fillet into 2 and fry for a few minutes each side in butter and oil.
It also goes well with cut into chunks of monkfish with chorizo for a quick 15 minute dinner.
It also works well threaded onto skewers with prawns and vegetables and grilled.
Poor Man's Lobster - Baked Monkfish tail.
- Sharp knife
- Frying pan
- Oven tray
- 1 kg monkfish
- 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 110 g bacon streaky, 10 slices approximately
- Place the monkfish on a board and cut either side of the backbone to produce 2 fillets.
- Cut the skin from the lemon, slice and remove the pips.
- Lay the slices on the cut side of one of the fillets.
- Arrange the bacon on a chopping board, slightly overlapping but with enough to cover the length of the fish.
- Season with the pepper then place the other fillet on top.
- Wrap the bacon around the fillets then tie at 4cm, 2 inch intervals with string.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sear the fish all over to get a golden colour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/160FAN/Gas4 and bake for 20 minutes.
- Leave the fish to rest for 5 minutes, loosely covered in foil, before carving into slices.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended'
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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