Friday, February 27, 2009

Foie Gras de Mer, AKA Foie de Lotte, AKA Foie de Failure, AKA Foie de Gross

Monkfish liver. It is the alleged foie gras of the sea. It is a delicacy in Japan.

Before this experiment, I had never worked with monkfish liver before, nor had I ever even eaten it. Incidentally, I don't think monkfish is so great and I don't particularly care for foie gras.

But the fact of the matter is that I was in Whole Foods in Union Square wandering aimlessly around and thought it would be a good idea to impress the fish monger with an austere request.

My idea worked. The fish monger got really excited and offered to sell me a pound of livers for $5. This is when it dawned on me that I was going to have to go through with this.

My first idea was to do a torchon, which I found is what everyone else does. All the recipes I could find on the internet (there weren't many) suggested steaming instead of the usual poaching. The only exception was Jonathan Benno's recipe, which involved covering the liver in powered gelatin, then cryovacing, then poaching for 3 hours at 64 degrees Celcius. Evs.

A lot of recipes also suggested curing the liver for a couple of hours, then soaking it in sake, which I didn't have. I soaked my livers in milk instead, something I saw on a clip of Iron Chef Japan. This guys soaks it in milk too.

The reason why you want to soak the monkfish liver in milk or sake is that it smells absolutely horrendous. You also need to clean the liver – that is, remove all of the blood veins. These two steps mitigate the smell.

I made the mistake of cleaning my livers before soaking them in milk and it wasn't a pleasant experience. Imagine scooping blood off a rotten smelling lobe with the texture of an eyeball

After soaking the liver in milk over night, it still smelled fishy, but I thought (hoped) that the smell might cook off. I made my first attempt. I (poorly) rolled the liver into a torchon and steamed it on some curry leaves.

Then I hung it in the fridge and let it cool. Oh god, it was gross:

The torchon tasted like bitter cat food. Realizing that I was not smarter than Japanese people at preparing weird cuts of fish, I soaked the remaining two livers I had in vodka, hoping that the alcohol would mellow the smell. It did, but the second torchon was only marginally better than the first... I still had to spit it out.

I'm not saying that monkfish liver is gross. What I am saying is that either I have no idea how to prepare it, or that I bought a pound of rotten fish for five dollars.

I threw out the last liver. I give up.

1 comment:

  1. Dude, that's hardcore. What a nice surprise to stumble across this blog and find you trying out such reckless culinary tomfoolery! We need to compare notes (not to mention catch long has it been?).