Monkfish and mango skewers – Cubes of spanking fresh monkfish, skewered with juicy ripe mango, and char-grilled over red-hot coals.
We’re not great at barbecues here in Ireland, are we? Not surprising when you can count on one hand the number of days when the opportunity might arise to fire it up and get cooking al fresco.
Burgers, sausages, chicken, and maybe a cut of steak are the usual suspects when we decide to do a bit of searing over coals. A lot of the time when cooking fish on a bbq is gets relegated to a convenient foil parcel, placed over the searing heat.
It’s a handy way to cook a bit of fish, but kinda defeats the whole purpose of getting out the bbq and going to the hassle of firing up the coals in the first place. Fish well wrapped up in foil will never take on the slightest hint of that beautifully charred, smoky, and caramelized flavour we all love when we bbq. Essentially the fish gets steamed in its own juice, and not barbecued.
Unfortunately, foil parcels are the only way to cook those flakey types of fish on the bbq. Fillets of haddock, bass, or cod placed directly over the coals will turn into a flurry of flakes if you fiddle around with them.
If you’re planning on cooking flakey fish on the barbie then it’s best to leave it whole. Whole fresh mackerel and sea bass are my own personal favourites. There are closed wire racks you can buy that enclose the fish and support it as it cooks. Making it easy to turn and move the fish around the grill for even cooking.
The easiest fish for barbecuing are those with a denser flesh like tuna, swordfish, and of course monk. They contain more protein and have more connective tissue which means it’s less lightly they’ll fall through the grill and onto the coals. You can safely place them directly on the heat or maybe skewer them up as I have here. Some crustaceans like scallops, prawns, and even lobster bbq wonderfully if you can bear the expense.
Normally I wouldn’t be the biggest fan of pairing fish and fruit together. If you’re like me you then you like to keep sweet and savoury for separate courses, but this little combo works well. You’ve got to cook it on the barbecue though to get the smokey vibe going that complements the sweet monkfish and juicy mango.
barbecued food, of course, needs some sort of marinade, dressing, or dipping sauce to smother over that beautifully charred flesh. For my monkfish and mango skewers, I wanted something cooling, fresh, and citrusy to complement the charred, smoky flavour.
You’ll want to whizz up something quick, who wants to spend all day cooking with the sun beating down outside? Natural or Greek-style yoghurt is a handy option for a dressing. Their natural acidity is a great vehicle for other flavours.
For my dressing I just opened a tub of natural yoghurt and added some finely minced garlic, then I whirled in a couple of tablespoons of nutty tahini and sesame oil. The dressing is finished with a little lime and lots of freshly snipped chives for a slight onion kick. It’s a quick and delicious dressing that works for any fish you’ll be throwing on the barbie.
425g /15oz monkfish tail – trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 mangos – peeled, cored, and cut in to large cubes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds
zest of 1 lime
for the dressing
150g / 5oz natural yoghurt
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of tahini
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
10g / half oz chopped chives
Fire up your bbq
Skewer up your monkfish and mango on metal skewers. Wooden skewers tend to catch fire on the intense heat of a bbq. If wooden skewers are all you have, try soaking them in water for a couple of hours before you skewer up the fish.
Allow 3/4 pieces of mango and monkfish per skewer, alternating each piece of fish and fruit along each skewer.
Brush your skewers with the olive oil and season generously with flakey sea salt.
When your bbq is at the height of its searing power, place the monkfish over the coals and cook for about 5 minutes before turning them over and cooking for a further 5 minutes.
While the fish is cooking whizz up the dressing. To your yogurt add the garlic, lime, tahini, sesame oil and chives. Than mix everything well.
When the fish is cooked remove it from the grill and sprinkle the skewers with the toasted sesame seeds and some freshly grated lime zest.
Serve the dressing on the side some peppery rocket salad and some jasmine rice.