Monkfish Liver.

15 May

Though born Taiwanese, my favorite Asian cuisine is actually Japanese. It is one the celebrates the beauty of balance and subtlety, minimalist to the eye yet unravels layers of flavor upon tasting. Rich yet delicate, is how I find Japanese food. The very philosophy can be easily found in one of the common Japanese delicacies: ankimo, monkfish liver. My dish of the day at YamaSho, Japanese restaurant cross karaoke salon extraordinaire.

To prepare this dish, the liver was first rubbed in salt, then rinsed with sake. It was then rolled in a cylinder to create the rounded shape, and steamed to be served. It came to me in gorgeous plating: slices of pink fish liver on top of a bright green shiso leaf, with a generous sprinkle of red, supple fly fish roes just winking at me all flirtatiously.

Just one bite was all it took to explain why ankimo is often referred to as the foie gras of the sea. It was rich, creamy yet light and delicate at the same time; without the heaviness found in duck or chicken livers, but just a hint of the ocean. It presents the perfect balance that sang the ideology of Japanese cuisine. The texture was silky smooth, a great contrast to the squeaky pearls of roes.

Though not served with the dish, I asked for a small dish of ponzu sauce. With the addition of this citrus-base sauce that resembles a very light mixture of soy sauce and yuzu vinaigrette, the monkfish liver suddenly came alive as if woken from a slumber. Whatever little stale heaviness that inevitably came with livers disappeared with the refreshing wash of citrus. It brought out this lovely sweetness that wasn’t quite there before. I am a huge fan of the right amount of acidity.

Another interesting way to enjoy ankimo is by wrapping it with the shiso leaf and dip it in the ponzu. The coarse texture and aroma of this minty herb paired well with the monkfish liver. Now if only I had some grated daikon, everything would be soooo perfect.

Monkfish liver can actually be found in most Japanese restaurants (at least in the Bay area). If you find the idea of offal still hard to stomach but feeling a bit adventurous, monkfish liver is quite the great “liver 101” into this mysterious world. Give it a try!

YamaSho | 1161 Post Street | San Francisco CA 94109 | 415.346.2222


One Response to “Monkfish Liver.”


  1. Grilled Chicken Liver. « Weird Eats SF - June 1, 2011

    […] melted brie and the silkiest soft tofu – rich, creamy, smooth. Unlike the delicate flavor of monk fish liver, the grilled chicken liver was powerful, assertive, and full of life. While a piece of foie gets […]

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