Monkfish with watercress, asparagus, cherry tomatoes & pancetta

by Neil Forbes

Meaty white fish with the best of spring's new offerings


125ml olive oil
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
A sprig of thyme
20 cherry tomatoes
1 monkfish tail, boned and skin removed
8 spears of asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 2 inch pieces
150g piece of pancetta, cut into ½cm cubes
1 bunch of watercress
Juice of 1 lemon


Heat the oven to 180C. Warm 100ml of olive oil in a pan and add the sliced garlic, a few thyme leaves and the cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook very gently for 5 mins on a low heat. Set to one side.

Dry the monkfish tail on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. Heat the remaining oil to smoking point in a clean frying pan and add the monkfish tail and asparagus to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and brown gently all over. Add the pancetta pieces and a few thyme sprigs, and place in the oven for 3–5 mins, until just cooked.

Remove the fish from the pan and allow to rest. Meanwhile, wilt the watercress in the same pan as the asparagus and pancetta, then squeeze over the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper.

To serve, slice the fish and arrange on a plate with the asparagus and tomatoes. Drape the wilted watercress over the dish, followed by the pancetta. To finish, drizzle the garlic and tomato flavoured oil over the dish. Give the plate a final season and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve.