The monkfish belongs to the anglerfish species; the Lophius which is located in the northeast Atlantic has three long fibrous growths out of the middle of their head. The longest of the three is known as the Esca which is used for attracting other fish which they swallow whole. It is believed the jaws of the monkfish open automatically when the Esca is touched. The teeth of the monkfish are wicked with a fanglike appearance that is very sharp.
The tail meat of this unusual fish is why is referred to as the poor man's lobster. It is actually compared to a lobster tail. The white fleshy meat is often found in French cuisine and only recently has grown in popularity in America. This mild tasting flesh is bright white and any gray membranes must be removed prior to cooking. One of the reasons for this fish's popularity is its versatility for cooking with a very unique flavor and texture.
The monkfish can be found from late fall to early spring in the lower Chesapeake Bay area, they have also been seen in Cape Hatteras North Carolina and the Grand Banks of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. They are bottom dwelling fish living in the broken shell bottoms and are buried in the sand. They begin spawning between the ages of three and four when they reach maturity. The monkfish are sometimes referred to as being "all mouth" because of the fact their heads is made up mostly of their mouth. Besides their tails the livers are considered a prized source of food which is harvested commercially.
For those who have never eaten monkfish it truly is a rare treat. Monkfish is available for purchase at several Internet shops and many recipes can be found should you decide to give it a try.