New York Chefs Replace Foie Gras With Monkfish

In light of New York City’s pending ban on foie gras, chefs are turning to the notoriously ugly monkfish.

WORDS Hannah Selinger
April 2020
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Photo by Todd Coleman

In a 1979 issue of McCall’s Magazine,  Julia Child introduced American diners to monkfish liver as a stand-in for the seemingly irreplaceable French delicacy of foie gras, a.k.a. deliberately fattened poultry liver. Now, the New York City Council’s ban on foie gras (taking effect in 2022) has chefs and fishermen reviving Child’s novel idea.

“In the urgent search for more ethical ingredients, forward-thinking chefs are looking towards the sea,” says Sean Barrett, fisherman and co-founder of Long Island’s Dock to Dish program. Barrett harvests and sells monkfish to NYC-based restaurants, as the sheer abundance of wild monkfish and the extraordinarily high fat content of their livers make the deep-sea creature a prime candidate to fill the sudden void.


The notoriously ugly monkfish. / Photography by Alamy

Top-tier chefs have already begun to experiment: Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern says the fish liver “combines a smooth, fatty texture with a light oceanic, herbal aroma,” and serves it steamed with braised kombu and a lime dressing, while the Gabriel Kreuther Restaurant whips up a liver torchon with a Riesling gelée and orange-ají glaze.

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