Auld Lang Syne: Flounder meuniere with “champagne” lemon buerre blanc

Flounder meuniere with lemon beurre blanc

Whilst we were still in the year 2012, I made a resolution to lose weight and adopt a more consistent exercise routine in 2013. But before that promise was to come to fruition, I decided to indulge in one of my favorite entrees, a fish dinner swimming in my absolute favorite, decadent butter sauce – lemon buerre blanc. Setting off to my local fish market (The Sea Eagle Market here in Beaufort), girly girl and I made a purchase of local flounder and two pounds of fresh, locally caught shrimp. Girly girl likes to check out all the whole fish lined up behind the counter, watch the fish mongers furiously clean and slice the whole fish, and most importantly, counts on getting a quarter for the candy machine every time we stop here.

Now flounder (similar to sole and turbot) is a delicate fish, perfect for a hot pan sauté. And as I am proud that my 5-year-old loves salmon, a rather oily, very “fishy” fish, I can count on her liking flounder too, so I was satisfied it would fit into my dinner plan. The fillets at the market were just the right size, reasonably priced and as I noted above, locally caught. My version of a French classic: Prepared Southern-style with flounder and pecans!

I remembered that I also had at a bottle of decent champagne  (the real stuff) in the refrigerator (it had been there a while!) and it should be perfect in the sauce. So once I sent Dear Hubby out for some pecans (ran out during the holidays), I was all set for a “final meal” worthy of sending out 2012 in style.

Fresh flounder fillets, washed and dried. They are firm (but flexible), NOT slimy and do not have a strong fish odor. Fresh fish!

Fresh flounder fillets, washed and dried. They are firm (but flexible), NOT slimy and do not have a strong fish odor. Fresh fish!

I'm sure ya'll know what pecans look like, but I thought these were especially nice ones and you can see the chop size.

I’m sure ya’ll know what pecans look like, but I thought these were especially nice ones and you can see the chop size.

Here are the pecans after I ground them in my small food processor. Small but you can still tell what it is...

Here are the pecans after I ground them in my small food processor. A small grind, but you can still tell what it is…

Cook down the shallots in the "champagne" and the lemon juice to concentrate the flavors.

Cook down the shallots in the “champagne” and the lemon juice to concentrate the flavors.

After adding the cream, whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Adjust the heat on the stove as necessary - do not allow the mixture to  boil! Yes, it uses a lot of butter...but that's why it is so decadent!

After adding the cream, whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Adjust the heat on the stove as necessary – do not allow the mixture to boil! Yes, it uses a lot of butter…but that’s why it is so decadent!

dredge flounder fillets

Dredge the fillets in the pecan/flour mixture just before sautéing.

sauté flounder fillets

Sauté the flounder fillets in hot, melted butter on both sides until browned and cooked through. Do not overcook! Remove the fish to warmed plates and cover while sautéing all the fillets.

flounder fillet meuniere with champagne lemon buerre blanc

Here’s another shot of the finished plate. This was MY plate – notice all the sauce! More than a drizzle…better to soak up with some good French bread!

Flounder Meuniere with “Champagne” Lemon Buerre Blanc

  • 6 flounder fillets, washed and dried
  • ½ cup pecans, rough chopped and divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 3-4 tbl all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbl. salted butter
  • 1-2 shallots, minced – to make about 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tbl fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sparkling wine or champagne (a rich white wine will work too)
  • 1-2 tbl heavy cream
  • 10 oz cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes (about 1 tbl. each)
  • 1 tbl grape or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan combine the shallot, wine, and lemon juice in a non-reactive saucepan over high heat and reduce to about 2 tablespoons. Lower the heat slightly and add the cream to the reduction. Bring heat up to just under a boil and then reduce heat to low. Add butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously. Keep whisking until all butter is incorporated. Keep sauce warm on a heated pad or stove-top (stir occasionally) while you cook the fish.

In a food processor or blender grind about ¼ cup pecans to a fine consistency. Reserve the rest of the pecans and set aside. Mix the ground pecans in a small bowl with the flour, ½ tsp salt and pepper. Transfer this mixture to a flat plate or platter. Meanwhile heat 2 tbl butter in a sauté or fry pan until hot (but not smoking).

Drizzle oil over all the fillets to coat. Dredge the flounder fillets in the ground pecan/flour mixture on both sides and place in the hot butter cooked about 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with just a little salt and pepper. You may need to cook the fillets in 2 batches. Remove to a warmed, covered plate while you finish up cooking all the fillets.

Serve fillets with the warm beurre blanc sauce drizzled on top and a sprinkle of the remaining chopped pecans.

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It’s a busy, busy, busy, busy world so slow down… with snapper glazed with ginger and tangerine.

Ahhh, it’s finally Friday and I am happy for a weekend with only a couple (or three) prescheduled events. Here in the Lowcountry, October and November tend to get filled with all the festivals, open houses, and community events that would never fly in the humidity soaked months of May-September. The weekends can get sort of crazy running from one thing to another, sometimes being disappointed not to make it to every simultaneously occurring event.

The weather here is now what others across the US might consider “perfect summer” weather. The cool, dry air hits a high in the mid seventies (degrees Fahrenheit) and the evening temps are in the high 50’s, making oyster roasts, carnivals, barbeques and pumpkin patch visits downright pleasurable, well, unless the no-see-ums (also known as sand gnats) show up to spoil the party. Forget Palmetto bugs, fire ants, or even mosquitoes, I consider these critters the plague of the Lowcountry with absolutely no redeeming qualities. If someone could invent an environmentally responsible, yet surefire way to get rid of them, billionaires they would surely become. Let me know if you have any ideas…

So enough about that scourge, lets talk about food and something sweet and special…ginger spread. My friend, Greta from over our local organic grocery, Herban Marketplace, kindly gave me a jar of this luscious concoction to try. It is made by a company called Ginger People and while I possess no personal nor professional affiliation with them what so ever, I do love this stuff. So far I have created two recipes using it – fish with an Asian-inspired tangerine ginger glaze that is not traditionally Southern at all – and sweet potatoes, a vegetable that is clearly and historically as Southern as grits or butter beans.

After testing the glaze/marinade a few times on different fish and even shrimp, I got the proportions just right. And while purchasing these beautiful, first of the season sweet potatoes, it dawned on me that they could be my ginger’s ‘Fred’.

I grew up with sweet potato side dishes served up at holiday time, in particular, loaded with added sugar and even marshmallows – which I always scooped off. Sorry, but that is gross. As I got older I’ve found new ways to prepare sweet potatoes, mostly without using much in the way of sweeteners. Now this ginger spread is sweet, so before I sound like a phony, I will warn to use it sparingly as a little goes a long way both in sweetness and in the ‘gingerfication’ of whatever food you’re preparing.

This being said, the ginger cream spiked sweet potatoes and the fresh snapper bathed in the tangerine-ginger glaze could not go together any better. And as a feather in my cap, my non-sweet potato eating Dear Hubby even tried (and liked) them, so after a concerted 6-plus year effort, a sweet potato epiphany has finally cracked that nut! Yeah for me.

Ingredients for the snapper with ginger and tangerine glaze.

Making the marinade/glaze is a snap – just mix everything in a small bowl.

Don’t forget to squeeze in the tangerine juice. You could also use fresh orange juice…

Pour the marinade over the fish, cover and refrigerate.

Here’s the fish fillet after an hour in the frig. Time to cook!

After heating the pan, place the fillet skin side up so it gets a good sear…

After cooking a couple of minutes, flip the fillet over, pour on the reserved marinade/glaze, cover and cook until the fillet is cooked through. Depending on the thickness of the fillet and the type of fish this can vary. This fillet took a total of about 12 minutes to cook.

For the gingered sweet potatoes, start with raw sweet potatoes (or yams) that have been washed and dried. I oiled the bottom of this bake pan but not the potatoes themselves.

Here are those same potatoes, after being roasted in the oven for about 40 minutes. I poked my finger into one so you can see their jackets are ready to come off.

These will be hot potatoes so allow to cool a little – or a lot – before moving the skin (the jackets). They will slip right off.

With ingredients as great as sweet potatoes, cream and this awesome ginger spread there’s no need in complicating things. Mix up those ingredients with a dash of salt and squeeze of lemon – I used a fork!

After slicing the potatoes, fan them a bit and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. then pour the ginger cream over top. Cover the baking pan and cook for about 20 minutes.

After baking, sprinkle with the tangerine zest. I spooned some of the cream over the top of each serving as well. For a dinner party, I think this would be pretty great baked in individual ramekins too

Snapper Glazed with Ginger and Tangerine

  • 1 lb. fillet snapper (or salmon, grouper, or mahi mahi)
  • ¼ cup Mirin
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  • 2 tbl. Ginger People ginger spread
  • 1 tbl. rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of a 1 juicy tangerine and zest of 1/2 a tangerine
  • Juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl mix the Mirin, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and whisk in the ginger spread, juices and zest. Reserve ¼ cup in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large flat dish place the clean fish fillet and pour the Mirin marinade (not the reserved ¼ cup) over the fillet. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour

Stovetop: In a large skillet heat 1 tbl oil (grape or vegetable) and 1 tbl butter until very hot – but not smoking. Place fish in skillet skin side up and sear for 1-2 minutes, lowering temperature if necessary. Flip fish over, pour the remaining ginger/Mirin/juice mixture over the fish and continue to cook over medium high heat 3-4 minutes. Turn heat down, cover pan and continue to cook another 5-6 minutes or until the fillet is cooked through.

Grill: Fire up your grill and get it hot. Grill skin side up like above and then flip over once, using a brush to slather the fillet in the reserved marinade/glaze. Turn the heat down (gas grill), put the top down and allow to grill until the fillet is cooked through. If using a charcoal grill, after the initial sear I suggest flipping the fish onto an oiled piece of aluminum foil, to finish cooking.

Remove to a warm platter or plate and serve with the gingered sweet potatoes.

Gingered Sweet Potatoes 

  • 2-3 sweet potatoes in their jackets, washed and dried
  • 2 tbl. Ginger People ginger spread
  • ½ cup cream
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ¼ tsp. salt plus extra
  • Optional: orange or tangerine zest, about 1 teaspoon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place whole sweet potatoes on a lightly greased baking dish or pan. Bake about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and their jackets are separating from the interior. Allow to cool enough to slip the jackets off (use paper towels or potholder if necessary to hold the warm potato). Oil or butter a glass or ceramic baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each potato into thick (3/8” slices) and place in the baking dish, fanning slightly. Sprinkle with ¼ tsp. salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk the cream with the ginger spread, add in the lemon juice, and a dash of salt. Pour this mixture over the sweet potatoes, cover the baking dish and bake about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with a spoonful of the ginger cream on top and sprinkled with zest, if desired. Serves 4-6.