Saturday, October 10, 2015


A lightening strike took out my computer and router! I got a new router for Wi-Fi connect and I've resurrected an old, old computer, just in time for a weekly blog post. (A week of trying to work on a smartphone has exhausted me!) But I need to decide what's next. Replace the motherboard of the damaged PC or buy a new computer? 

Although we had a power cut, no other appliances were damaged. Nevertheless, I decided to cook off some of the contents of the freezer--three packets of monkfish heads and bones. Cooler weather makes soup an appetizing possibility now. And, a cache of almonds made me think of sopa de rape, monkfish soup.

A creamy seafood bisque thickened with almonds.

This version is a creamy “bisque.” It’s a bisque with no butter or cream, however. Ground almonds and bread thicken the flavorful stock that is made from fish heads and bones. (The traditional recipe for monkfish soup is here )

There is a surprising amount of flesh on the monkfish carapace. The frugal cook would pick it off the bones and incorporate it in the soup. If you don’t want to bother with that step, just add chunks of raw fish to the soup. Shrimp heads and shells add depth of flavor to the stock. If not available, just eliminate that step.

The almond sauce that thickens the soup can also be served on its own as a sauce for simple grilled fish. It’s rather like ajo blanco, white gazpacho, except that the ingredients are fried in oil instead of being incorporated raw.

Almond skins slip off.

To blanch and skin almonds: Add the almonds to boiling water. When water returns to a boil, cook 30 seconds. Drain. When almonds are cool enough to handle, but still warm, pinch off the skin at the pointy end and slip off the skin.

 Seafood Bisque with Almonds
Crema de Pescado con Almendras

Almonds thicken the bisque. Saffron gives a golden hue.

 Serves 4 to 6.

For the fish stock

3-4 pounds monkfish heads and trimmings
8 ounces whole small shrimp, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 cups water
1 slice lemon
Parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 leek
2 teaspoons salt
Fish heads and tails for stock.

Hack the fish heads into pieces that will fit in a large soup pot. Peel the shrimp, saving the heads and shells for the stock and refrigerating the peeled shrimp to add to the finished soup.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the shrimp heads and shells and sauté on high heat until they begin to brown. Add the water, lemon, parsley, bay, leek and salt. Bring to a boil. Add the monkfish heads and trimmings and cook 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Skim out the fish heads and bones and let them cool.

Picked from the bones.

When the bones are cool enough to handle, pick off flesh and reserve it. Return the bones to the pot with shrimp heads. Bring again to a boil and simmer 30 minutes.

Pour the stock through a sieve. Discard the bones and shrimp shells.

The stock can be prepared several days in advance. After cooling, store it, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. When ready to finish the soup, heat the stock gently.

For the almond sauce and sofrito
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices bread (3 ounces), crusts removed
4 cloves garlic
1 cup blanched and skinned almonds
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 cups fish stock
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped green peppers
1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon aguardiente (anisette liqueur) or Sherry
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Fry bread, almonds, garlic.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet and fry the bread, 3 cloves of the garlic and the almonds until they are golden. Skim out, leaving any oil remaining.

In a small bowl, add ¼ of hot stock to the crushed saffron.

Place the bread, almonds, fried garlics plus 1 clove of raw garlic in a blender container. Add 1 cup of stock and allow to soak 10 minutes. Then puree the bread, garlic and almonds until smooth. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Blend in the saffron. Blend in remaining ¾ cup of stock.

Set the almond sauce aside until 15 minutes before finishing the soup.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Sauté the onions and green peppers 5 minutes. On a high heat, add the tomatoes. Stir in the aguardiente, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, covered, until vegetables are soft, 12 minutes.

Puree the sofrito in a blender and sieve it. It’s ready to add to the remaining stock in the soup pot.

For the soup
Stock, approximately 6 cups
Sofrito (recipe above)
Almond sauce (recipe above)
12 ounces monkfish fillets, diced
4 ounces peeled shrimp
Any shredded fish removed from bones
2 slices bread, crusts removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped piquillo pepper or any roasted red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped hard-cooked egg
Chopped parsley

Heat remaining fish stock in pot. Add the sofrito and whisk in the almond sauce. When soup is almost boiling, add the diced monkfish. Simmer the soup 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and any flesh picked off the bones. Cook 5 minutes longer.

While soup is cooking, cut the bread into small dice. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet and fry the bread until golden. Remove and reserve.

Serve the soup garnished with chopped red pepper, chopped egg, parsley and a few toasted croutons.
Garnish the soup with croutons, chopped red pepper and egg.

Saffron adds flavor and color to the bisque.


  1. Buy a new computer, and make sure both it and your router are on surge protectors/UPSs. (The good quality surge protectors come with their own warranty against damage to devices being protected.)

    1. David: Thanks for the counsel. Looks like I will be updating my computer--instead of my kitchen! This power surge apparently came in thru the telephone line--my neighbor's router was also blown (but was not plugged in to his computer, as mine was).