The Ugliest Fish in the Sea?
It would seem that fishermen are constantly bringing up unusual fish in their nets, but the Monkfish is by far one of the ugliest endangered fish of Northern Europe.
Also known as frog-fish, goosefish, and even sea-devil, the monkfish has a flat slim body and makes surprisingly good eating when available (or so I’ve heard).
About the Monkfish
With its wide mouth full of sharp pointy teeth, the monkfish is more like a demon from a nightmare than a monk from a cathedral. But despite its seemingly ugly appearance, the monkfish is being overfished in some areas almost to the point of becoming endangered.
Monkfish can be classified as a type of anglerfish, and they use lures to attract unsuspecting fish for their next meal. When a fish comes in contact with the esca (an irregular growth of flesh on the top of its head), the monkfish’s jaws are triggered into action. Like a spring-loaded trap, the Monkfish will then swallow its prey whole.
• Can grow to more than 5 feet (1.5m) long
• Largest recorded monkfish weighed 219 lbs (99.4 kg)
• Females can live to be over 13 years old
• Natural predators: swordfish, sharks, and thorny skate
• Are capable of eating prey as long or longer than themselves
• Typically live along the ocean floor
In Europe and North America, the tail of the Monkfish is often dubbed “the poor man’s lobster.” In some areas, Monkfish is considered an excellent delicacy, and you’re more likely to find articles on how to cook a monkfish rather than information about the fish themselves.
For all their menacingly large size, the unfortunate fact about monkfish is that they’re mostly mouth. The meat used for these marine meals is found mostly in the tail and liver. For a 20 lb. fish, after all is said and done, you can only use about 5 to 7 pounds of meat.
Considered to be a trash fish
Unfortunately, despite the wide variety of recipes for cooked monkfish, many local fishermen often refer to it as a “trash fish.” Monkfish are typically caught on the side by scallop dredgers and groundfish draggers who happened to scoop up monkfish along with the rest of their haul.
A prayer for a monk
Although in some areas the monkfish is considered relatively stable, we should be careful not to let this frightening fish take a turn for the worse. Monkfish may be ugly, but let’s give them some love.