5 Surprising Monkfish Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Knowing the best options for monkfish substitutes will help you complete recipes that call for this sometimes hard-to-find fish. This fish, native to the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, is also known as the goosefish or anglerfish. Monkfish are members of the scientific genus Lophius, which includes several different species from various regions. Sometimes given the nickname “poor man’s lobster”, this fish has a similar mild flavor and dense texture to lobster. Usually, only the flesh from the tail of the monkfish is eaten, although in some areas the liver is also used.

Best Monkfish Substitutes

Finding monkfish substitutes is quite simple, considering the taste profiles that it shares with a number of other more readily available forms of seafood. While monkfish is popular in France and other European countries, it is less well-known in the United States and other regions of the world. It can be especially hard to find away from the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts. Also, the methods with which monkfish are caught can be environmentally problematic. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to know what works as a good monkfish replacement.

Cooked fish with veggies and potatoes on a plate, served on a wooden surface with tomatoes on the vine, a potato, and garlic.

A simple supper with fish and veggies. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Atlantic Cod

This white fish is commonly carried fresh or frozen at most supermarkets, and while not as dense as monkfish, it makes a good substitute given its mild flavor. Avoid using Pacific cod, as that species is too flaky in texture.

Halibut

Another widely known and eaten fish, halibut has a density similar to monkfish, as well as a comparable mild taste. This white fish is less oily, so adding a bit of olive oil to a dish with this replacement will more closely replicate the original recipe.

Lobster

Given that monkfish is known to be a cheaper replacement for lobster, making the opposite switch works very well. Of course, lobster is more expensive than monkfish, but it provides far more bang for the buck since far more of the lobster’s flesh is eaten, rather than just the monkfish tail.

Scallops

With a similar texture to monkfish, as well as a sweet mild flavor, this shellfish is a great monkfish substitute. Sea scallops are preferable, although bay scallops will work.

Tofu

If a vegan or vegetarian substitute is called for, use an extra firm type of tofu. The flavor will be different, but the texture and density are similar to monkfish and it will pick up the flavors of the rest of the dish quite nicely.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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