We all know what foie gras is, the delicious liver of a force-fed duck or goose, literally meaning "fat liver". This french delicacy is ever controversial due to the gavage (force-feeding) of corn a process that is outlawed in many places due to it's inhumane nature. Where there is controversy there is usually a nice price tag to go with it. Under French law foie gras is declared as a protected cultural and gastronomical delicacy of the heritage of France.
In Japan they have a similar delicacy, "ankimo". Monk fish is the name of a variety of North West Atlantic bottom dwellers most commonly the "Angler fish". You know the scary looking black sea monsters with the single antenna with a light on it used to lure in prey, that you might have seen on the Discovery channel, yeah that's the one. That "lure" is called the "esca" and it helps these beast get their dinner and enables them to grow up to 5 ft. in length. Eventually, after many a seafood dinner they wonder into the wrong net and become dinner for us!
So what do these hideous sea monsters have in common with foie gras? The liver of Monk fish is also a national delicacy and it is known as ankimo. Just like with foie gras there is controversy surrounding ankimo too. Over recent years the demand for the delicious fishes liver has grown at such a rate that it has caused the monk fish to be severely over fished to the point that there is a ban on trawling and gill-netting in many places. Apart from the liver (ankimo) only the tail of the monk fish is ever consumed. Similar to a fine pate' in texture ankimo is often prepared smoked or steamed and less likely to be prepared pan seared like its avian cousin, though I think it might be delicious with its rich and buttery flavor. Monk fish is more available during the spring and summer months though it is said to have a a better taste and texture when caught in the winter, liver and tail-fillet alike. Ankimo can be found in finer sushi restaurants all over the place year round though obtaining it for personal use could be tricky unless you know the right fish monger. - K.C.C.
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