Monday, June 16, 2008

Mongchong Baked in Coconut Milk

Yep, its more fish! Continuing the quest to learn about and cook more local fish, today we have Monchong; local, wild and on sale at the store. Mongchong, also called Bigscale or Sickle Pomfret (but doesn't Monchong sound so much better??!!), is a deep-water fish caught year-round, usually not targeted by fishermen, but a very welcome by-product. It's not a pretty fish to look at, you can see the picture at the link above. The flesh is white, with pinkish tones, moist and firm. Having a mild flavor, it does well with marinades and can be grilled, baked, broiled, steamed or sauteed. For my Monchong, I decided to go with baked; specifically baking it in coconut milk, using a recipe I like from Entertaining Island Style, 101 Great Recipes and Tips From Hawaii by Wanda A. Adams. This is a simple preparation, with lots of island flavor, that you can use on any white fleshed fish.

Fish Baked in Coconut Milk
Entertaining Hawaiian Style, Wanda Adams

4 (4-6 oz) fillets of white fish (in this case Monchong)
1/4 cup lemon. lime, calamansi or Hawaiian lime juice
Salt & Pepper
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced and smashed (I just peeled and grated mine)
5 inch piece lemongrass (although it doesn't say to, I chop or bruise my lemongrass)
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 (14 1/2 oz) can coconut milk or equivalent fresh coconut milk (I used lite coconut milk)
Several sprigs of cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a heatproof casserole, sprinkle fish fillets with citrus juice and dust with salt and pepper. Scatter ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and garlic over fish. Pour coconut milk over top, cover and place in oven. Bake about 20 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Garnish with cilantro.
Serves 4
Baking the fish in coconut milk yields a tender juicy fillet. If you don't have all the spices mentioned, you can substitute with your favorites--I sometimes make it with curry or cumin. My fillets were fairly thick so it took about 25 minutes to cook them. I served the Mongchong with a simple Whole Wheat Cous Cous, cooked in some vegetable stock with a little cumin, and few saffron strands. Once cooked, I mixed in some golden raisins and shelled pistachio nuts, salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Hey Deb - Ssshhhhhhhhhh!!!! I have been trying to keep Monchong a secret. Being my absolute favorite baking fish, I cook this up whenever I have company and refuse to tell my guests what kind of fish I am serving. Monchong is an amazing fish that holds up well to most flavors. I am anxious to give this recipe a try.

  2. This is delicious! I will bookmark this recipe for a future reference. Thanks for sharing.


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