This week I have an easy recipe for you that that doesn’t take up too much of your time to prep. It starts with some local flounder.
When we first moved here, I caught a flounder off my dock and I could have kept him but I did my usual and let it go. The fish around my dock just don’t know how lucky they are, especially when they are getting their picture taken with me wearing my Chef’s jacket. It drives my Great-Aunt Marilyn crazy when I share photos of fish I’ve caught and then released. “You mean you don’t keep them fish you catch?” she says. The neighbors say the same thing. I just like to catch and release them. My favorite part of fishing is hearing that drag when a fish is ripping line off the spool.
Flounder is an excellent fish that is mild and has a nice texture. They have to be at least 12 inches around here to keep them and you can keep 10 per angler per day in state waters. There’s no bag limit in federal waters, but you better not stop and fish on the way back in because you might have a hard time proving where you got all your flounder.
According to IGFA, the record flounder was caught in 1975 and was 22 pounds, 7 ounces. It was caught in New York while drifting and using snapper for bait. I think it’s legal to fish with snapper here too, if they are whole fish and of legal size. The one I caught off our dock ate a finger-size shrimp dangled right next to the dock.
This recipe is easy and will make a nice presentation when finished. That’s always important, because we often eat with our eyes first. Making it look good matters, but making it taste great is the real goal here.
Start with boneless and skinless 5-ounce flounder fillets that have been towel-dried and placed skin side up on your cutting board. Yes, I know they’re skinless, but they need to be placed skin side up anyway. When you roll them up, you’ll have the bone side showing, which makes a better presentation.
Before you begin to prep the fish, you need to gather all the other ingredients and have them at arm’s reach so you’re not pacing back and forth around your kitchen and making things harder than they should be. One of the easiest ways to get me aggravated as your Chef is to begin a recipe without all the ingredients at the station where you’re going to prepare it (especially if you’re an hourly associate).
In this recipe I use prosciutto. If you use regular bacon, you’ll either overcook your fish while trying to cook the bacon, or undercook the bacon while trying to avoid overcooking the fish. So just use prosciutto.
I also use provolone cheese, but I guess you could use whatever cheese you’d like. Just make sure it is a semi-hard cheese, so it doesn’t melt too much and leak out all over your baking dish. Provolone would also work. In other words, just use provolone.
Finally, I add some thin asparagus. In the chef world, this called pencil size, followed by standard size and jumbo. If you do use jumbo asparagus, I suggest peeling the stalks or they won’t cook properly and will be too fibrous.
I used Hollandaise sauce to finish this recipe. I don’t even want to begin to explain how to make this from scratch, so either buy some already made Hollandaise or try your luck with a whisk, mixing bowl and YouTube. (Editor’s note: Leave it to a Chef to complicate food. Try this: http://bit.ly/2GAIX6i. You’re welcome.) Or you could use a different sauce like the sage cream sauce I wrote about to go with trout a few weeks back.
When it’s time to assemble your stuffed flounder, you will need some skewers to help keep them rolled up while they cook. If you have some fancy metal ones, then that could make a good presentation as well. I use wooden ones and remove them before plating. I cut the rolled-up flounder in half and then stand them up on a pile of garlic mashes potatoes.
Chef Tim Spain is a Florida native and has years of experience cooking professionally, both in restaurants and in private settings. He offers private catering and personal culinary classes. For more information, visit ChefTimSpain.com or call 406-580-1994.
Four boneless, skinless flounder fillets (5 oz each)
4 thin slices prosciutto
4 slices provolone
16 pencil asparagus spears
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350. Towel-dry both sides of the flounder. Place fillets skin side up on your cutting board. Top each fillet with a slice of prosciutto and provolone. Now place 4 asparagus spears on each fillet. Starting with the tail end of one fillet, gently roll it up. Using the skewer to hold it together, place it on a baking dish. Repeat for remaining fillets. Bake 11 minutes. Remove the skewers. Cut each fillet in half along the bone line. Place on a bed of rice, pasta or mashed potatoes and garnish with Hollandaise or sage cream. Serves 4.
— Recipe by Chef Tim Spain, ChefTimSpain.com