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Thursday 27 December 2012

Recipe: "Ankimo" - Sous-Vide Monkfish Liver with Grated Radish & Ponzu Dressing

Since finishing Cordon Bleu last autumn, I have been able to apply some of the French cooking techniques I learnt there to a number of different Japanese dishes at my supper club. Of all my recent experiments, the one I am happiest about is Ankimo - Japanese monkfish liver.

In Japan, monkfish liver, sometimes referred to as the Japanese foie gras, is very much a delicacy - it is usually cooked in a mixture of water and sake for about 10-15 minutes, rolled in a sushi mat to shape it and served with grated white radish (mooli) and ponzu dressing. It is soft, unctuous and very lightly fishy with a delightfully creamy texture. I love Ankimo and had it often when I was living in Tokyo.

Returning to the UK and after much research, I found that Fin & Flounder in London's trendy Broadway Market could supply me with monkfish liver. I had already eaten and purchased Fin & Flounder's fish on some occasions so I knew I was in good hands. Richard, the proprietor, was very helpful and despite having stopped selling monkfish liver at his shop a while back, he was happy to source and sell it to me whenever I placed an order. I cannot recommend Fin & Flounder highly enough - the level of service and the range and quality of fish Richard supplies are second to none.

Fish Counter at Fin & Flounder
So having found the monkfish liver, I was now ready to recreate this dish in London using my newly acquired Sous-Vide Supreme. Sous-Vide, pronounced "soo veed", is the French term for "under vacuum" and refers to a method of cooking in vacuum-sealed plastic pouches at low temperatures for long periods of time. I have written extensively about this cooking method in an earlier post including a recipe for Tamago Onsen - sous-vide duck eggs, served with silken tofu and ponzu dressing which you can read here.

We touched on sous-vide cooking at Cordon Bleu, but it wasn't until I acquired a Sous-Vide Supreme water bath that I managed to practice sous-vide(ing) at home. This piece of kit couldn't be simpler to use and it is reasonably priced at around £450 in John Lewis for the water bath and vacuum sealer. 

I found that sous-vide cooking gives the liver a creamier texture and greater concentration of flavour than simply boiling it in water. So, I can definitely say that the sous-vide technique produced better results for this dish than the more traditional or conventional cooking methods. The other practical advantage for using the sous-vide technique for this recipe is that the liver can be cooked and stored away well before serving as it is protected by the vacuum pouch.

I served Sous-Vide Monkfish Liver at my Japanese Supper Club as one of the starters during the summer of 2012 and had great feedback. This is a rather unusual but very rich and delicious dish and you don't need to go all the way to Japan to try it.

Sous-Vide Monkfish Liver with Grated Radish & Ponzu Dressing


1kg monkfish liver
50ml sake
2 tbsp sea salt
1 medium-sized white radish (mooli)

Ponzu Dressing:
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp dashi powder
(Alternatively, ready-made ponzu dressing can be purchased from any Japanese food shop)

Shichimi - Japanese Seven Spices
Black sesame seeds - for decoration
Radish or baby cress - for decoration

Equipment Required:
Sous-vide Supreme water bath
Sous-vide Vacuum Sealer
Vacuum pouches
Cling film


1. Remove the outer veins from the monkfish liver, rinse under running water, drain. Place the liver in a container, mix the sake and sea salt, cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.

2. Fill the Sous-Vide Supreme with water, set it to 65C. It will take about 10-15mins for the Sous-Vide Supreme to reach this temperature.

3. In the meantime, prepare the ballotines - remove the liver from sake and salt marinade, and pat it dry. Place two 60cm sheets of cling film one on top of the other over a clean work surface, pressing them down so that all air between the sheets is eliminated. Place the liver over the cling film (closer to you), and roll it tight (away from you) to make a cylindrical shape. Tie one end of the cling film cylinder, squeeze out any air from it through the other side, and roll it again to tighten it before tying the other end. The ballotine should be about one and half inches thick. Depending on the size of the livers, you should be able to make one or two ballotines.

4. Place the monkfish ballotines into a medium sized vacuum pouch. Using the Sous-Vide Supreme vacuum sealer (following the manufacturer's intructions), seal the pouch.

5. Place the sealed vacuum pouch in the Sous-Vide Supreme water bath when the temperature has reached 65C. Ensure that the pouch is completely submerged, sous-vide the monkfish liver for 3 hours and 15 minutes.

6. Prepare the ponzu dressing - mix all ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

7. In a large bowl, add some ice cubes and water. Once the cooking time is up, remove the vacuumed pouch from the Sous-Vide Supreme water bath and refresh it in the iced water to bring the temperature of the liver down rapidly. Refrigerate it until needed, the monkfish is served at room temperature (remember to take them out of the fridge at least one hour before serving).

8. Just before serving, peel and grate the white radish, squeezing out the excess water. Set aside.

9. Remove the liver ballotines from the vacuum pouch, very carefully remove the cling film layers from the liver, and pat it dry. Cut in 1.5 cm thick slices.

10. To serve, place one slice of monkfish liver in a small bowl or plate, top it with grated radish, one or two teaspoons of ponzu dressing, and a sprinkle of shichimi pepper, black sesame seeds and baby cress if using. Serve.


  1. What an inventive dish! It looks beautiful.

  2. I am inspired. What a wonderful article!
    I would like to know the cost of monkfish 'liver', if this is possible?

  3. It's relatively cheap - I recently bought some for £11 or so per kilo at Meek & Wild in Highbury Barn, which may share some suppliers with Fresh & Wild. (It may have been even less when I first bought it there.) At Meek & Wild at least, it's Cornish, apparently; there's a fisherman whose Japanese wife was influential in the selling of the livers as well as the tail.


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