Tapa del mar: Ajillo Monkfish with paprika spinach and potato

Barrafina is an authentic Spanish tapa in the heart of Soho. The atmosphere is casual, you arrive without a reservation, wait with a glass of Rioja and olives until you are seated at the counter. The menu changes daily, depending on seasonal ingredients and fresh deliveries, which are exposed for you to choose the best one.

I miss the old school fish restaurants that expose all their fish and seafood, for me it is the best way of choosing the freshest fish. To check if the fish is fresh firstly you can look at the eyes- they need to be clear. Also the giles are a good indicator- if they are not discolored (their color is pinky red) then the fish is fresh. Finally, hard skin is an indicator of freshness as well as the smell- smelly fish is a definite no.

Now that you know how to choose your fish, simply tell the fish monger to filet it for you, or you can take a couple of cooking classes to learn how to filet the fish your self- practice makes perfect! For today I chose a light summer recipe from the Barrafina cookbook that is also incredibly easy to make– Monkfish with Ajillo sauce with a side of paprika seasoned new potato and spinach.


Serves four:


500 g new potatoes
Salt and pepper (preferably freshly ground)
5 tbsp. extra virgin Olive oil
2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 baby monkfish tails (about 125g) membrane removed
1 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
160g baby spinach

Ajillo- 1 recipe quantity


75 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
Handful of flat leaf parsley finely chopped


  1. Start with the veg prep. Chop the shallots, garlic, parsley

  2. Boil new potatoes (to boil potatoes put them in a sauce pan with salt, bring them to the boil and simmer for another 8 min) using knife check if they are boiled
  3. Pan fry the potatoes until golden brown, remove to the side and leave to rest on kitchen paper
  4. Sweat the shallots, add the paprika and the spinach. Finally add back the new potatoes and stir for a min on low heat. Cover and leave to the side

  5. Pan fry the monkfish fillets using a bit of olive oil (depending on the size of the fillets each takes about 4 min per side)
  6. To prepare the Ajillo simply add the chopped garlic and parsley and stir with a whisk until ingredients are evenly mized

  7. Season fish, spinach and potatoes and Ajillo with salt and freshly ground pepper, check the taste
  8. To serve place spinach and potatoes at the center of the plate and add one monkfish fillet on top. Using a teaspoon sprinkle Ajillo on top and finish off with a nice parsley tip.



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