Can you eat monkfish?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat monkfish?”. We will also elaborate on the taste of monkfish, the nutritional benefits of monkfish, how to prepare monkfish and some ways to cook monkfish. 

Can you eat monkfish? 

Yes, you can eat monkfish. In fact, monkfish is pretty healthy food. It is packed with protein and phosphorus, which promotes metabolism and strengthens bone. 

It is also loaded with vitamins B6 and B12 and also selenium, which supports the body to utilize antioxidants effectively.


Angler (Lophius piscatorius) is a monkfish belonging to the Lophiidae family. It has a very large head, which is broad, flat and depressed, making the rest of the body (normally called the tail) appear to be a mere appendage (1).

Monkfish is a huge bottom-dweller that is recognised for its big head and mouth packed with pointy teeth. It has a flat body that is spotted dark-brown and black with a pale underpart. Blunt spines are present under the flexible skin and the fish has strong pectoral fins. 

Monkfish lives in the muddy waters at the bottom of the subtropical and tropical seas (3). This species is widely found in coastal waters of the northeast Atlantic, from the Barents Sea to the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. This high-value commercial species has long attracted a great deal of interest because of its firm and flavourful flesh (1).

The tail of monkfish is typically consumed in French cuisine, while other parts of the fish are consumed in various parts of the world. 

For instance, the monkfish’s liver is added in Japanese hand rolls while the liver and cheeks are frizzled in particular Spanish cuisines. 

Monkfish are commonly trawled in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean.

What does monkfish taste like?

Monkfish is identified by its hard, fleshy white meat that is often associated with lobster flesh. It is not only identical to lobster in texture, but also in flavor. Monkfish has a mild, sweet flavor without any tinge of fishiness. It is a versatile fish that can be prepared by nearly any cooking procedure. It is particularly tasty with bright, acidic dressings. 

The liver of monkfish is used in Korea and Japan as a nutritious and caloric seafood dish, owing to its high level of fat and vitamin A. Its intestine, and slimy and limp skin is served as a popular seafood dish (3).

The nutritional profile of monkfish

Monkfish is a wonderful pick for a person peeking to consume better lean protein. It has a high moisture content. It is particularly rich in protein, has low levels of sodium, and provides a perfect source of essential vitamins and minerals, that include (2):

  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium

One 4 oz serving of monkfish meat provides only 86 calories with 16 g of protein and 1 g of fat. It is considered a very low fat fish, with higher amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids than saturated lipids (2).

Monkfish are known to have mild levels of mercury as compared to smaller fish varieties, such as sea bass or mackerel. Other toxic elements such as Cd, As, Cr and V were also found in this fish, but in low concentrations (1).

Studies showed that the protein, lipids and mineral profiles differ between head and tail tissues. Higher protein and trimethylamine oxide values were observed in the tail site, and mean concentrations of essential and toxic elements were higher in the head site (1).

How do I prepare monkfish?

If you have bought a whole tail of monkfish, you will have to follow the steps below to prepare it.

  • First of all, remove its skin. Though it is edible, it is quite hard to chew. Just hold firmly onto the skin and draw it back directly to remove it.
  • Cut off the tail and fins with a sharp knife. 
  • Separate the delicate membrane covering the monkfish by holding onto one end and drawing directly back. Now, you can roast the whole tail on the bone, which will give you absolutely juicy meat.
  • Divide the tail into two filets. Or drive the knife down every flank of the spine and trim off the individual filets. Once the filets are trimmed out from the spine, they are all meat.
  • Preserve the bones to make some fish stock.

If you have bought monkfish filets, all this work would be done for you. There are no pin bones in the tail, so all that is needed to be done is start cooking.

How to cook monkfish?

Despite water loss and a slight nutrient and protein loss, cooking monkfish by boiling or steaming results in the increase in the protein digestibility (3). 

Monkfish can be cooked using nearly any cooking process, such as pan-frying, grilling, baking and simmering in soups and braises. Its lean meat dries out if cooked overly, so be certain you are aware of this. 

Look for doneness by putting a paring knife inside the monkfish meat; if the knife comes out hot to the touch, the monkfish is cooked enough. When the monkfish is cooked through, the meat seems white.

Pan-frying monkfish

An easy method to cook monkfish filets is to melt some butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium, flavor the filets and cook till golden brown, almost 5 mins per side. 

Grilling monkfish

Monkfish requires just a few minutes to grill perfectly. Cut it into pieces and wind it onto skewers. To retain moisture, try to marinate it briefly at the start.

Poaching monkfish

Poaching is an excellent method to gently cook monkfish and be sure that it does not dry out. Add pieces of monkfish to a spiced, tomatoey broth and then poach them for almost 15 mins till they are cooked thoroughly.

Baking monkfish

As monkfish is a tough fish, it keeps up nicely to a brief sear on the stove on medium-high heat to get golden-brown color on the surface. Then you can move it to a hot oven and complete cooking it thoroughly.

Other FAQs about Fish that you may be interested in.

Can you eat mako shark?

Can you eat bonnet-head shark?

How long is fish good for in the fridge?


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat monkfish?”. We have also elaborated on the taste of monkfish, the nutritional benefits of monkfish, how to prepare monkfish and some ways to cook monkfish. 


  1. Prego, Ricardo, et al. Comparative chemical composition of different muscle zones in angler (Lophius piscatorius). J food compos anal, 2012, 28, 81-87.
  2. Marques, Ivone, Goreti Botelho, and Raquel Guiné. Comparative study on nutritional composition of fish available in Portugal. Nutr Food Sci, 2019.
  3. Jeung, Young, et al. Protein Quality Evaluation of Cooked Monkfish (Lophiomus setigerus) Meats. Fisher Aqua Sci, 2003, 6, 165-171.

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