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Monkfish Fra Diavolo with Spaghetti

by in Jan 2013
Monkfish Fra Diavolo with Spaghetti
2 votes, 3.50 avg. rating (72% score)
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Total Time: 45

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Monkfish is called "the poor man's lobster," thanks to the firm, sweet flesh of its tail. (The head is large, toothy, and ugly, so you'll never see whole fish in the market.) The meat holds up well to this zingy, spicy sauce; for less heat, just omit the red-pepper flakes.

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Monkfish Fra Diavolo with Spaghetti
Photo/Art by Michael Piazza

For the fish:


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds monkfish tail, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


Put flour, salt, and pepper into a medium-size bowl. Toss fish cubes in flour mixture. Set aside.

For the sauce & pasta:


  • 1/2 cup port wine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 3 large shallots
  • 28 ounces (1 large can) chopped or diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, plus extra for pasta water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti
  • Garnish: fresh basil leaves


Preheat a large (at least 14-inch) skillet over medium heat 3 minutes (this will help keep the fish from sticking to the pan). Add 3 tablespoons oil and heat 30 seconds; then add monkfish in a single layer, with space in between pieces. Cook fish, without moving, until crisp and golden brown on just one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off heat and carefully add port to pan. Use tongs or a slotted spatula to transfer monkfish to a plate.
Add 3 tablespoons oil to pan and set over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots. Cook until lightly golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, parsley, salt, oregano, and pepper flakes (if you like) and stir. Simmer 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add spaghetti. Cook according to instructions.
Gently place monkfish pieces, browned side down, into sauce and cook without stirring until fish is opaque and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. When spaghetti is cooked, use tongs to transfer it to the pan holding the sauce, along with 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss to coat. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Updated Monday, December 3rd, 2012

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