Recipe by Jeantelle van Staden
Beer-battered monkfish, cajun crisps, lemon preserve butter and dill sour cream
- 5 lemons, washed
- 4 curry leaves
- 4 whole cloves
- 125g kosher salt
- juice of 2 lemons
- 50g butter
- 5ml (1 tsp) honey
- 2 whole monkfish tails, skinned
- 5ml (1 tsp) fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 10ml (2 tsp) Maldon sea salt
- 120g tempura flour to dust
- 330ml beer
- 200g tempura flour
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 5ml (1 tsp) black pepper, crushed
- oil, to deep-fry
- 2 medium-sized Russet potatoes, peeled
- oil, to deep-fry
- 10ml (2 tsp) cajun spice
- 5ml (1 tsp) smoked
- Maldon sea salt, to taste
Dill sour cream
- 50ml buttermilk
- 100ml fresh cream, whipped to stiff peaks
- juice of ½ lemon
- 5ml (1 tsp) sugar
- 5ml (1 tsp) fresh dill, chopped + extra, to garnish
- 2,5ml (½ tsp) salt
For the lemon preserve butter, cut off the tips at each end of the lemons. Cut each lemon into quarters lengthways, only about ¾ of the way down – the quarters should still be attached at the base. Pack the lemons with the curry leaves, cloves and most of the kosher salt, close them and place in a jar. Compress the lemons as you add them to the jar to release their juices. Add the fresh lemon juice and the remaining kosher salt. Cover the jar tightly and set aside in a cool, dark place – a cupboard or food pantry is fine. Every 2 – 3 days, open the jar and compress the lemons to release more juices. If you have room to add another lemon, you can. Do this for the first week, or until the lemons are submerged in juice. The lemons will be pickled and ready to use in about 4 – 5 weeks, once the rinds are very soft. You can continue to preserve them longer if you like. Once opened, transfer the jar to the fridge where they should keep well for several months.
Rinse the lemons before using to remove excess salt and any film that may have formed in the liquid. Slice the rind very thinly and sauté in the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the honey and cook through, about 2 minutes.
For the beer-battered monkfish, gently pat the fish dry and lay flat on a cutting board. Holding the tail, make incisions halfway down the fish, slowly slicing through until you reach the bone. Keep your knife in place and slowly turn the fish around. Moving up towards the tail, clean the top part of the meat off the bone. Pat the fish dry, season on both sides with the parsley and salt and dust with the 120g tempura flour. Pour the beer into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Sift the 200g tempura flour into the bowl, whisking gently until just combined. Add the cayenne and black peppers. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or deep pot to 190°C. Coat the fish in the beer batter, slide into the oil and fry, turning frequently, until deep golden and cooked through, 4 – 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 50°C. For the cajun crisps, cut the potatoes on a mandoline into thin slices and place in lukewarm water while you heat the oil to 200°C in a deep-fryer or deep pan. Deep-fry the slices until golden, drain on paper towel, season with the spices and place in the oven to crisp up until needed.
For the dill sour cream, combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
To serve, drizzle the preserve butter over the crispy fish and enjoy the crisps with a healthy swoosh of sour cream garnished with fresh dill.
Cook's tip: If you can’t find tempura flour, use self-raising flour with 2,5ml (½ tsp) bicarbonate of soda.