I wish that eating fresh seafood didn’t seem like such a luxury – fish is easy to prepare and readily available where I live. Plus, it’s so good for you, there’s really no excuse for not working it into the menu more. I treat it like a grilled cheese sandwich at times – I’d rather have someone make it for me than do it myself so that it seems that much better. It’s stupid, given that we can all prepare fish just as well as most restaurants (if not better), and all for a lot less money.
This recipe was born of the high price tag for stuffed delicacies at upscale seafood restaurants. On top of that, the dishes were often drowned in butter, making the fish taste gorgeous, but at the expense of my waistline. Stupid personified. The flavor in this dish comes from a good dose of savory veggies that are simmered in stock rather than sauteed in butter. Flaky, moist flounder is topped with spices and lemon and nestled above a lovely stuffing of tender shrimp, herbs, vegetables and bread crumbs. It tastes like a million bucks and a million calories, but it is just plain good for you eatin’!
Here in NYC, they charge way too much for lump crab, but if you are near the Chesapeake, definitely substitute the shrimp with crabmeat if you’d like. It’s just such a lovely addition to the dish, and the price down there makes so much sense. Same thing for you folks on the Pacific Coast that can get your hands on inexpensive king crab. In addition, you can mix it up and do a seafood medley of shrimp, crab and scallops – all work well in the stuffing.
Spicy Stuffed Flounder
2 c. of vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 of a bell pepper (I use red, but green is ok), finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 cl. of garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of sherry or white wine
1/2 tbs of good dijon mustard
1 tsp of fresh thyme
1 tsp. of fresh rosemary
1/2 c. of parsley leaves (loosely packed), chopped
2 c. of bread crumbs
2 tbs. of butter (I use Smart Balance for this to keep the bad fat down)
1 lb of raw shrimp, cut into small bite-sized pieces (can substitute 8 oz. of lump crab, bay scallops or even 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms)
3 portions of flounder (preferably 7-8 oz. each)
1 tsp of cajun seasoning (or a pinch each of salt, white pepper, black pepper and cayenne)
Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a baking sheet with Pam and set aside.
In a sauce pan, bring your stock to a boil. Add bell pepper, shallot, garlic, celery, white pepper, black pepper, salt, sherry or wine, mustard, thyme and rosemary. Stir and then turn off the heat. Stir until the butter has melted and then toss in the parsley and shrimp. Stir in the bread crumbs until moistened and then set aside.
Take a flounder filet in your hand and mound it with a heaping cupful of the stuffing. Flip over and place on the baking sheet, stuffing side down. Repeat with the other filets. Halve the lemon and squeeze over all of the fish. Sprinkle a teaspoon of your favorite cajun or blackening seasoning on top of the fish (or use a combo of peppers and salt as listed above).
Place sheet in the oven and bake fish until flaky and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Squeeze the other half of the lemon on top of the fish and serve.