Notable Nosh: Ankimo (Monkfish Liver)

Nosh - Ankimo 1

This is an interesting little item I tried at Wasabi during my last visit to Ottawa. I had never heard of this delicacy before and, according to Wikipedia, CNN Go rated it as number 32 on the list of world’s most delicious foods.

I have eaten Monkfish before (which is delicious, although the fish itself is just about the ugliest you can find), but I was very curious to try the liver. The menu at Wasabi, described it as Monkfish ‘foie gras’ but I think a little bit of poetic license is at play with that usage. Foie Gras means ‘fatted liver’ and, in the case of geese, is obtained by force feeding the birds to the point of obesity. I am not sure, though, how you go about force feeding a fish…

Anyway, the liver I was served had a curious two-tone color, as you can see. I have noted this in a few other pictures (but not in all cases), and I wonder if this reflects different regions of the liver. Apparently, the organ is cleaned, rinsed with sake, and then rolled and steamed. Ponzu sauce is typically served with it, as it was in my case, and caviar seems to be a popular garnish. Here there were red and black lumpfish caviar as well what I believe is ‘tobiko’ or flying fish roe (here dyed green). It makes for a pretty presentation although, on this occasion, I thought the choice of platter was a poor one.

As for the taste? Well, to be honest, I am not sure if I would put this in the top 50 most delicious foods. For me, the closest comparison I can make is with ‘tomalley’ or lobster liver, which has a delicate ‘sea’ flavor and is actually quite nice once you get past the mushy green appearance. Most people tend to shy away from tomalley because of the soft, pasty texture but the monkfish liver is much firmer and also has a more generally agreeable appearance. I like this well enough, although I thought the Ponzu sauce made by the kitchen at Wasabi was not a really great accompaniment. I’ll try it again though, and I would be very keen to try using it in my own kitchen as I would like to see how it might pair in combination with other foodstuffs…

5 thoughts on “Notable Nosh: Ankimo (Monkfish Liver)”

  1. The monkfish liver I had at three Michelin starred RyuGin in Tokyo certainly ranked in my personal top 50, perhaps even as high as in my top 20. Although you are correct that it is not fattened, the taste did remind me a bit of foie gras. Perhaps it was prepared differently — it was simmered if I remember correctly.
    I must say that I do like liver, especially foie gras.

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