To peel tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow X in the bottom end of each tomato. Immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch them for 15 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to the ice water to stop the cooking. Using your fingers or a small knife, peel the tomatoes. To seed, slice the tomatoes in half crosswise and lightly squeeze and shake, using your finger if needed to help dislodge the seeds.
2 Tbs. olive oil
6 thick bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
3 to 4 lb. monkfish on the bone, skin and dark membrane removed by the fishmonger
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
In a heavy flameproof casserole dish or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and garlic and sauté until the bacon is fairly crisp and the garlic is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Push the bacon and garlic to the side and lay the monkfish in the dish. Sear until lightly browned on both sides, using tongs to turn the fish. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and pile most of them and the bacon mixture on top of the monkfish.
Add the wine and basil and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the flesh starts to pull away from the backbone, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the fish to a warmed platter, and surround and top the fish with the vegetables. Serves 4.
Note: Monkfish has firm white flesh attached to a central bone, and there are no rib bones to contend with. Cooked in one piece, monkfish absorbs flavors well; bacon, tomatoes, garlic and basil suit it perfectly.
Variation Tip: Thick mahimahi or sand shark fillets can be used instead of the monkfish.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Fish, by Shirley King (Simon & Schuster, 2002).