Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Broiled Flounder Triple Threat

Broiled Flounder Triple Threat

The seafood counter at my local supermarket had some very nice JUMBO flounder, so I picked up a piece for dinner. Since one filet weighed in at over a pound, I knew I would have to cut it in some way to make portions for both wifey and I. I thought a flounder tasting dish would be nice, and I came up with the "triple threat." I portioned the fish into six pieces and cooked it three different ways: two classic and one not.

Broiling fish coated in oil and lemon is a simple, yet highly tasty, preparation. I seasoned the first piece with salt (always kosher), pepper (fresh ground), parsley, and basil. Then I coated it with olive oil and squeezed fresh lemon juice over it. To keep it moist and add more lemon flavor during cooking, I put a round of lemon on top.

Panko breaded
Breaded fish, either broiled or fried, is a staple at many restaurants. Instead of regular bread crumbs I used panko flakes. Panko breaded foods tend to have a slightly crunchier feel since the flakes are bigger than standard bread crumbs. To prep, I simply seasoned the fish with salt and pepper, dipped it in an egg wash, and then coated with panko.

Cocktail sauce
I accompanied the breaded flounder with some cocktail sauce (on the side, of course). I like my cocktail sauce simple and strong; no lemon or hot sauce here. Quality horseradish is the key, and I only use the best: Kelchner's. From Pennsylvania, Kelchner's only distributes to the Mid-Atlantic but you can mail order from their site. To make the perfect cocktail sauce, add some horseradish to a bowl and mix in ketchup until it isn't too hot for you. Simple, but only good with quality ingredients.

Parmesan encrusted
While my Italian heritage screams at me not to combine fish and cheese, my American upbringing says WTF, try it. For the last piece of flounder, I went little more daring, and used the leftover shredded parmesano/reggiano from the weekend's caesar salad experiments as a topping. I seasoned with salt, pepper, and Old Bay; then topped the fish with the cheese. Simple, yet different. Why the old bay? Why not? Plus flounder doesn't have a lot of flavor and I thought it would compliment the cheese.

Not much is easier than broiling flounder. Preheat the broiler, set the rack about 5 inches from the heat (second rack down in my oven) and broil on a cookie sheet until the fish is opaque, but not quite flaky. You don't want to cook all the way to flaky, because that is actually overdone. Since you can't see the fish in the broiler, you have to time it. My fish was HUGE (3/4 inch thick) so it took about five minutes to cook. Regular pieces of flounder only take a minute or two. I also put a piece of parchment paper on the pan to keep the fish from sticking.

The flounder came out perfectly cooked: opaque, moist, and easy to pull apart. The five or so minutes of cooking time was enough to just brown the panko flakes and melt the parm. Another minute or two would have given a better browning on both, but likely over-cooked the fish. One end of the parmesan pieces were thinner, and a little dry. All three tasted great, and Wifey said she liked the panko crusted the best because the different textures of the fish and breading gave a better mouth feel. She also said I made the cocktail sauce too spicy, but she always says that.