Porcupine’s Fine, but Monkfish Is <i> the </i> Dish

Pamela Marin is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

In 1941, Justice Laub was an Air Corps staff sergeant stationed on an island about the size of an Orange County shopping mall in the middle of a crater lake in Goose Bay, Labrador.

“I was a city boy,” recalled the Leisure World resident, a retired clothing salesman, now 66. “I didn’t know much about these wilderness things, but I knew how to shoot, of course. One of the first things I shot up there was a porcupine. I found out later that porcupine is considered the trapper’s friend.”

Laub skinned the spiky little creature and baked him--"the cook didn’t want to have anything to do with a porcupine,” he said. And to his surprise, “the meat was very good but quite fatty. That’s why trappers like ‘em. They help you keep your body heat.”

Were porcupine available at the local supermarket, Laub would turn his back on such a cholesterol-laden entree. He and his wife, Florence, a retired schoolteacher who volunteers at a local grade school four days a week, eat “light, balanced, wholesome meals,” he said. “Nothing fancy. We like simple food.”


Married 14 months ago, the second time for both, the “newlyweds,” as they call themselves, fill their days with classes, social events, peer counseling and such hobbies as writing and photography. While his wife is at school, Laub spends his mornings tending a vegetable garden planted with garlic, scallions, shallots, lettuce and broccoli. (His tomato and pepper seedlings reside in a bedroom window facing south.) Recently, he planted a rose garden in front of their building.

Although Florence prepares most of their daily meals, Laub has his “specialties"--favorite recipes for Cornish game hens, barbecue and vegetable side dishes. His monkfish recipe is the product of imagination and “fooling around,” Laub said.

“About 15 years ago, I went to dinner at a restaurant in San Francisco that specialized in monkfish done lobster-style. I remembered how that tasted and figured out pretty much what they did by trial and error.”


2 monkfish filets, approximately 1 lb. each

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon dry vermouth

1/4 teaspoon each: marjoram, rosemary, thyme, sweet basil, paprika



Place monkfish in pan and cover with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon vinegar. Let stand for 30 minutes.

In deep pot, pour two quarts water, remaining vinegar, vermouth and spices. Bring to a boil. Add monkfish filets and continue boiling for 7 minutes.

Remove filets from pot, cut in half and sprinkle with paprika. Place in broiler and cook until brown and crusty. Garnish with lemon and parsley. Serve with melted butter or margarine.


Each week, Orange County Life will feature a man who enjoys cooking and a favorite recipe. Tell us about your candidate. Write to: Guys & Galleys, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, 92626.