Four 4-ounce monkfish tail fillets
1/2 pound soft butter
2 garlic cloves
3 sprigs thyme
8 cups water
1 ounce dried large kombu
Benton’s bacon (any smoked bacon will do)
2 ounces shaved bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
1 head of green cabbage
1/2 pound soft butter
Notes on ingredients: Both kombu and bonito flakes can be found in Asian grocery stores. If monkfish is unavailable, you can substitute halibut or scallops. The cabbage can be replaced with cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.
Rinse kombu under cold running water. Combine water and kombu in a large pot. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat. Let sit covered for 25 minutes. Remove the kombu and discard. Add the bacon, bring to a boil, remove from the heat and let sit covered for 30 minutes. Strain liquid to remove bacon, then refrigerate broth to chill completely. Once your broth is cold, remove all fat that has congealed. Pour kombu and bacon broth back into a clean pot, bring to a boil, remove from heat, add the bonito flakes, stir for 30 seconds, then strain liquid through cheesecloth. Discard the solids and season the dashi with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. You may not need all of the dashi for the recipe, it can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Cut cabbage in half and remove core. Cut cabbage into 2-inch squares. In a large frying pan, add enough butter to coat the surface. Melt butter over medium heat, and once the butter stops foaming, add the cabbage. Keep an eye on the heat to make sure your cabbage is browning nicely, but that your butter is not burning. If you find yourself burning the butter, carefully remove it with a spoon or paper towel and add more. When your cabbage has a nice sear on the bottom, remove from the heat and let it sit in the warm pan while you cook the fish.
Remove the monkfish from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Season the fish generously on all sides with salt. Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add a thin coating of canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the monkfish and let cook until pale golden, about 3 minutes. As with the cabbage, work in two batches so your pan is not crowded. Add 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan. When the butter has browned, tilt the pan and start spooning the hot butter over the fish until the bottom side is rich golden brown. Flip the fish over, crush the garlic with your palm or the flat side of a knife and add to the pan along with the thyme. Keep spooning the hot butter over the fish until the internal temp reaches 140° F. Take the fish out of the pan and let rest for 6 minutes before slicing.
Heat bacon dashi in a saucepot. Keep it very hot, but not boiling. Reheat the cabbage if needed. Slice the monkfish if desired, or leave whole. Arrange the fish and cabbage next to each other in a bowl, ladle in the hot bacon dashi, and garnish with chopped chives.