This week one of our regular customers William Hallstrom @wilhamgramof the Altadena Farmers Market shares their tips and tricks with our catch of the day: Monchong. Check it out!
So the other day I picked up the week’s catch from your company, which was monchong, a fish that I maybe had heard of — barely, but which I’m pretty certain I had never eaten before. Allegra told me that it is usually the incidental bycatch of tuna fishers. A good eating fish, but somewhat elusive to catch and not well known, as well as being tough to sell to fishmongers. She told me I could cook it like halibut. But I was feeling inquisitive, so I decided to do some research and hopefully improve my fish cookery. I am a devoted home cook, but while not being immune to the ease of working with salmon or shrimp it seems like a good idea to try and branch out, and try new techniques to go along with the diverse range of sea creatures out there.
A very quick search on the internet revealed that they have a history of catching and eating monchong (or sickle pomfret) in Hawaii, where it seems to be considered a pretty good cooking fish. It is a good all around fish at the table, not too oily and not to dry, that is suited to the cook. My quick dive indicated that it would work well in wide variety of preparations from steaming to sashimi. It has a pretty compact flake and a nice “flavor-of-the-sea” thing going on. The most typical preparations you may find involve grilling, so I decided to skip that, and instead try a gentle heating method, something fried and then something more raw. I ended up doing three dishes: monchong poached in fat; monchong battered and fried fish taco style; and then a ceviche type of preparation.
For the ceviche I used an aguachile technique: you combine chile peppers and citrus and briefly marinate your fish in that. You can find recipes all around for this; I specifically referenced the Carlos Salgado version featured in the book L.A. Mexicano by Bill Esparza. He uses scallops, but the monchong seemed to work fine, just a little funkier.
Frying and poaching work great with monchong. For the fried one, I also turned to L.A. Mexicano, which happens to feature the great recipe for Baja fish tacos by Ricky Piña owner of the famed Ricky’s Fish Tacos truck. I fried the fish and placed it on a bed of slaw, drizzled with crema. The monchong fries up great and makes a good fish taco, although not as fluffy as something like cod.
The monchong poached in garlic oil was great — so silky! This is a fish that really shows nicely with this technique — butter would be great as well. I served it with a lime and chile sauce.