Monkfish in saffron-sherry-almond sauce

Monkfish in saffron-sherry sauce and dried tomatoes is a dish inspired by a southern Spanish dish called Cazón en amarillo. Cazón is a small shark (school shark), a traditional dish from Andalusia, but since those are becoming hard to come by, I’ve exchange it for monkfish or as they call it in Spain “chicken of the sea”. The recipe is usually served with fried potato in a stew style terra cotta pot. My personal touch is the dried tomatoes, which give that dish some extra color and also a welcomed salty touch that contrast good the wheaty saffron flavor.saffronmonkpin

Monkfish in saffron-sherry-almond sauceThe base of the sauce is the most important part here, it’s a “tipico Spanish” base sauce, which is called sofrito. It consist mainly of softening a finely chopped onion, garlic in olive oil and reduce the juice of a grated tomato to a paste, then you add whatever liquid to it like; wine, broth, water,etc. this right there is the base of many of Spain’s best dishes. It takes some patience to wait for the liquid to evaporate, but it’s so rewarding. Especially, those days, where under 30 minutes recipes are considered the ultimate recipes… I believe to take your time will always give a more adequate result. No offense, I do understand the need for those under 30 minutes meals, with those job-family balancing lifestyles but once in a while to take the time to make a great sauce, or dish is worth the effort.

Saffron is a great spice, it colors your meal into this rich golden color and taste fantastic like no other spices. It can be quite a powerful spice and needs to be used in small amounts, cause it can become overwhelming, most recipe you’ll see with it contains no more than 1 pinch or max 2. A good saffron looks not dry, is vivid red and usually come in really small packs, some have yellow stigmas in them, which result in a slightly lower quality. No need to say, it’s terribly expensive to buy this spice, it’s the priciest of them all but to understand why it’s so costly check this video from Discovery.

Monkfish in saffron-sherry-almond sauce
This version is with asparagus instead of clams

One cooking tip about saffron would be to never boil it, if you add it to a meal, try not to boil it, simmering is fine but it will loose a lot of it’s flavor if you cook it too heavily. I, usually, let it 15 minutes into a warm bowl of water to release it’s flavor and color and add it toward the end of coccion. Also, keep your saffron in a dark, cool place if you want to preserve it longer.

So let’s make those Andalusian flavors going!

Monkfish in a Saffron-Almond sauce and dried tomatoes

Makes 2 portions

  • 400g of Monkfish pieces
  • 100ml of warm water
  • 50ml of Sherry or white wine
  • 1 onion cut into fine dices
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tomato cut into 2
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 laurel leaf
  • 40g of almond powder (blend some skinless almond)
  • few clams 
  • 50ml of the clam juice leftover or fish stock
  • olive oil
  • dried tomatoes cut finely
  • salt and pepper
  1. Start by making the sofrito, add the finely chopped onion to a pan on medium-low heat and let the onion soften, become slightly colored into the olive oil (takes about 20-25 minutes)
  2. Add the pinch of saffron into the warm water and reserve
  3. When the onions are soften, add the garlic and cook an extra minute
  4. With a cheese grater, grate the inside of each half of tomato until the skin, add the juice directly into the onion
  5. Let the tomato water evaporate completely, about 5-10 minutes
  6. Deglaze by adding the sherry or wine
  7. Add the laurel leaf and the water that contains the saffron, let simmer for a 5 minutes
  8. In a separate pot, cook the clams into a bit of water or wine, olive oil and thyme *extra and cover to let them open up
  9. When the clams are open, reserve them and add 50 ml of the clam juice to the simmering saffron sauce.
  10. In a mortar or blender make powder out of skinless almonds (this will thickens the sauce) and add to the saffron sauce about 30g and reserve the rest
  11. Take the laurel leaf out
  12. Blend the saffron sauce
  13. Pass through a sieve to make it smooth (push with a spoon down to get every last drops of juice)
  14. Reserve the saffron sauce
  15. Add salt and pepper to the pieces of Monkfish
  16. In a hot pan, add olive oil
  17. Cook in the pan medium-high heat the monkfish, depending how thick the pieces are, about 5 to 10 minutes until cooked through (if thick pieces, you can add a little clam juice, helps the fish to cook through)
  18. Serve with rice, clams, the finely chopped dried tomatoes and a touch of the almond powder.


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Beef tenderloin with a cherry and sherry saucePork tenderloin cooked sous-vide with a cherry and sherry sauce is the dish that Masterchef Spain season 4 won with. The real recipe isn’t out yet, but I’ve tried to reproduce it the best I could from this Andalusian lady contestant. It seemed so divine on TV, looking at the judges eyes rolling up in pleasure, I got jealous and knew I had to try it too. My first version wasn’t quite a success, although the sauce turned out more red than the last version, I believe because the cherries were more ripe or different type of cherry. I do not eat nor cook much red meat, but when I do, I love my meat as tender Beef tenderloin with a cherry and sherry sauceand juicy as possible. The magic in this dish is the sauce, a pure delight for the tastebuds. Sherry and cherry sounds similar but they are far from being similar in taste, the sherry is dry and the cherry sweet. Mix those two together and you’ll get a divine combination, maybe with an extra sweetener like honey, even better. This is a taste from south Spain, Andalusia, where the famous sherry is from.pork tenderloin cherry sherry sauce

Andalusia is a strong, bold and passionate place, just like it’s fortified wines and gastronomy. There are 4 main types of sherry, 2 mild ones; the Manzanilla and the Fino and 2 darker, richer and nuttier ones; the Amontillado and the Oloroso. The last one, Oloroso, is the richest of them all, and the one used in this recipe. If you ever visit the south of Spain, visiting a Sherry Solera in the Jerez region, it worth the whole trip! Those pyramidal barrel systems, always mixing old and new sherry from time to time in the contrasting massive cold buildings is a great experience. Ok, I’m flying away… sorry… let’s get back to the recipe.

Beef tenderloin with a cherry and sherry sauceAfter making a first attempt which wasn’t fruiticious, the meat wasn’t to my taste. I’ve decided to make my second tenderloin sous-vide. This way, you are sure to never past the coccion, and simply need to sear it fast to finish it. Meat isn’t my jam, I like it, but I could never nail a good medium coccion. So… I bought myself this small sous-vide machine and since then, I get the most juicy, tender and pink pieces of meat, a real plus in the kitchen. Love this machine, and actually they say it’s more energy efficient than a conventional oven.

So let’s make this rich Andalusian flavored dish going!

Pork tenderloin with a cherry and sherry sauce

Makes 4 portions

  • Beef tenderloin with a cherry and sherry sauce1/2 a pork tenderloin, without the membrane or 4 pieces of tenderloin
  • 100 ml of Oloroso Sherry
  • 15 cherries, ripe pitted
  • 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch (mix in 3 tbsp of cold water)
  • 2 french shallots or 1/4 of a white onion
  • 1 laurel leaf
  • 1 tbsp of honey or maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 50 ml of chicken broth or water
  • rosemary branch small
  • 10g of butter
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cook the tenderloin sous-vide at 58°C (135F) for 2 hours (thick piece) for a medium coccion 54°C for medium-rare with a small branch of rosemary, salt and pepper or cook the tenderloin your favorite way
  2. Add the shallots to a sauce pan with a touch of olive oil and salt, cook them slowly until translucent
  3. Add the cherries, sherry, broth, vinegar, water, honey, garlic and laurel to the saucepan and reduce, medium high heat, for 10 minutes
  4. Mash good the cherries so they give their juice
  5. Pass the sauce through a sieve and push down with a spoon to collect all the juice
  6. Add the sauce to a clean saucepan and add the cornstarch mix
  7. Let simmer until thick (covers the back of a spoon)
  8. Take off the fire and add the butter and mix well
  9. Sear the whole piece of tenderloin, high heat , on every side
  10. Cut into nice thick pieces and serve with the cherry sherry sauce (if cooked sous-vide, no need to wait before cutting into the tenderloin, if done otherwise, wait 10-15 minutes before cutting into it)

Serve with rosemary roasted potato wedges. Enjoy this Andalusian bite!

Beef tenderloin with a cherry and sherry sauce