Why is it that so many people dislike fish? I hear it so often. “Well, I don’t eat seafood, but anything else is fine.” “I don’t eat anything that swims.” “I only like fish sticks.” Or my personal favorite: “I only eat Filet-o-Fish from McDonald’s.” Yes, one of my friends will only eat fish in “filet-o” form. I can honestly say that I have never, not once in my life, eaten or even been tempted to eat a Filet-O-Fish sandwich (though I have made a version of it from Devin Alexander’s book Fast Food Fix, but it had all recognizable ingredients and I got to choose my own fish so that totally doesn’t count). Anyway, you get the point. I’d estimate that at least 50% of the people that I know don’t eat fish.
I’ve always liked fish, at least the “not extremely fishy” fish. I like the delicate varieties, the fairly benign varieties. Let’s just say….I’ve eaten a lot of tilapia in my life. I don’t really eat sushi (though I’m not opposed to it and yes, I will eat the uncooked varieties….I just don’t know enough about it to be like “yeah, that’s really great sushi” hence the reason I’ve never done a review of a sushi restaurant).
Cooking fish, though…well, cooking fish is a whole different kind of proposition. I don’t really remember the first time I ever cooked fish. Actually, I don’t remember anything about it-what recipe I used, what type of fish, when it was…nothing. I am sure I was freaked out by it, though. I don’t know why, but somehow fish seems more daunting to cook that other types of meat. I guess it’s the whole “undercook it and you may die of some horrible strain of food poisoning, overcook it by so much as a millisecond and it’s inedible” thing. Except that it really isn’t so bad as all of that, and I moved past my Gorton’s phase pretty quickly.
The first time that I made flounder meuniere I was actually planning to make “sole meuniere” which is the only way I’d ever heard the term “meuniere” used. Except that sole is flounder; who knew? I recall standing in the fish section at Whole Foods, lamenting the fact that not a darn thing in that case said “sole”. So I pulled out my iPhone and lo and behold: flounder is sole. Well there you go.
That’s lucky for me, because the last time I checked catfish (which I don’t think would be the best meuniere) and flounder were the only varieties of mild white fish in the freezer at Publix that are U.S.-caught. Seriously. Don’t feel bad about buying frozen fish, by the way. Most of the fish that you buy that appears fresh (that is, it isn’t frozen when you buy it) has likely already been frozen and thawed. Most of the time I just go straight for the freezer.
This is a great dish….the brown butter is just great because, well, everything is delicious with brown butter. The lemon adds a sunny, light flavor. Flounder is delicious….it tastes like fish but not fishy, if that makes sense. If you like fish, make this. Just be sure to lay the fillets in the hot butter in the pan away from you so you don’t end up with second-degree burns (okay, that’s an exaggeration but just barely) on your hand (I was much more careful this time).
Flounder Meuniere (Flounder with Brown Butter and Lemon)
- 2 flounder fillets (3-4 ounces each)
- 1/4 cup Wondra flour (you can use plain old all-purpose flour if you don't have Wondra)
- salt & pepper
- 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (I used grapeseed)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped parsley
- juice of 1/2 lemon (about a tablespoon)
- lemon wedges (for serving)
|Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. If the fish fillets are frozen, thaw them. Pat dry with paper towels and salt and pepper both sides. Allow to sit for about five minutes. Dredge the fish fillets on both sides in the flour and set aside on a plate or baking sheet.|
|Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add a tablespoon of the butter and swirl to melt. Carefully lay the fish fillets in, taking care to lay them away from you so you don't splash the oil and butter on yourself. Cook for about 3 minutes then carefully flip (again, away from you!) and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove the fish fillets to a baking sheet in the preheated oven.|
|Pour off the excess oil/butter and wipe out the skillet. Allow the skillet to cool just slightly then place back over medium heat and add the butter to the skillet. Swirl/stir until the butter turns brown. Watch it very closely so that it doesn't burn-don't walk away! Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.|
|To serve, place the fillets on a plate. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley then pour the lemon-brown butter sauce. Serve with lemon wedges.|