Why Julia Child Loved Monkfish So Much

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the cooking community, and even outside of it, who doesn't harbor admiration for Julia Child. She made French cooking accessible to the masses through her excellent work in publishing, with "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and on television with "The French Chef" (via National Women's History Museum). She's an unmistakable American icon — someone whose opinions on food are not only valued but downright revered.

Such is the case with her opinion on monkfish. On first appearance, one might not think that this bottom-dwelling fish, with its gaping maw of razor-sharp teeth, would make for good company, let alone good eating. However, monkfish is considered something of a delicacy. According to Earth.com, monkfish was once considered a "trash fish" or bycatch. However, with depleting schools of cod and other whitefish, monkfish began to rise in popularity as an alternative to more common catches, thanks, in no small part, to Ms. Child.

Julia's praise

There are certainly parallels to be drawn between 1980, when Julia roundly praised the monkfish and today. Inflation is high, and food security is an issue beginning to rear its ugly head (via U.S. Inflation Calculator & McKinsey and Co.). From a 1980 review of the book "Julia Child and More Company" in The Christian Science Monitor, Child is quoted saying, "Monkfish is a good resource in these days of inflation and scarcity. What you buy is thick, firm, snowy-white filets, chunky things you halve or cut into steaks. Monkfish is a cook's delight because it's so adaptable; its firm texture suits it to dishes like bouillabaisse, and its mild flavor can be stepped up with marinades and sauce."

Monkfish was a newcomer to the food scene at the time of Child's writing, and she plainly welcomed it with open arms, as evidenced by its appearance on an episode of "The French Chef." Luke's Lobsters explains that monkfish is often referred to as "the poor man's lobster" owing to its similarity in taste and texture to a lobster tail. Monkfish has garnered a well-earned reputation for quality and market sustainability. This is largely thanks to Child, but other celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller have also helped increase the popularity of this weird-looking creature of the deep (via YouTube and MasterClass).