Fritos de pixín or fried monkfish is a traditional tapa from the northern region of Asturias. Monkfish is known as rape in Spanish but in Asturias it is commonly found as pixín, its name in the Asturian language, bable. Fritos de pixín are fritters made from chunks of monkfish usually served with some lemon wedges and / or mayonnaise.
Monkfish himself looks very unattractive, but do not be fooled, that menacing looks hides one of the most succulent fish you can imagine. Curiously enough, this variety of fish lacks scales or fishbones.
Only the tail of this large fish is eaten and used to prepare these fritos de pixín. Do not discard the fishbones though, as they are very tasty and often used to impart plenty of flavor to fish soups and broths.
In the markets in Spain two varieties of monkfish are commonly found:
- Black monkfish
- White monkfish
Not visible at a first glance, the difference between them lies in the color of the membrane enveloping their intestines, for which the fish is named, but not only. The main difference lies in the quality of their flesh, being the black fish’s more tasty and firm. Also after cooking it remains very juicy and does not shrink due to excessive loss of water.
This fish is very versatile and it is cooked in many ways all over Spain; the present example of tapa is delicious and very simple to prepare.
- 1 monkfish, two tails
- 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
- Lemon juice from half lemon
- Sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- AP/wheat flour
- Olive or sunflower oil for deep-frying
- Cut the tails into chunks of about 0,8 inch (2 cm). If the monkfish tails are very large, divide each portion in half.
- Place the monkfish chunks in a bowl with the sliced garlic, the lemon juice and the sea salt. Toss well to coat evenly.
- Cover with film and let marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Pour the olive oil in a pan deep enough for frying, at least 2 inches deep of oil. Heat to medium with care not to overheat the oil, up to 170º-180ºC (338º- 356ºF). The olive oil must never give up smoke.
- Coat the monkfish first in the flour, removing excess, and then dip in the beaten eggs, coating evenly.
- Tip the coated monkfish in the hot oil and fry for 1 minute on each side. The coating will turn golden and crunchy.
- Remove the monkfish with a slotted spoon to a colander set over a bowl, to remove the excess olive oil.
- Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of monkfish.
- Serve the fried monkfish freshly made with some lemon wedges.
Tips on fritos de pixín or fried monkfish
- Always use the freshest and best quality fish. It’s best to find a trusted fishmonger to advise you on the product.
- Marinating the fish is not mandatory but it enhances the flavors for a much tastier final result.
- The fish is coated first in flour and then in the beaten egg, omitting a second flour coating (which some people favor). This results in a slightly crunchy and smooth outside texture.
- This type of coating retains more oil than other systems; drain well before serving.
- It is important that the oil temperature stays around 170º-180ºC (338º- 356ºF), not higher. This way the fish cooks through and the final texture of the coating is perfect.
- The frying time must not be exceeded; it should be around 1 minute/side at the specified temperature for best results.
- Monkfish must be eaten freshly made because it loses flavor and texture over time.
Fritos de pixín or fried monkfish is a tapa that you can not fail to sample if you visit Asturias. It can be paired with a good white wine … but undoubtedly it will be best enjoyed with the ubiquitous natural local cider. And if you are lucky enough to accompany all this with its beautiful green landscapes, much better!