Island Bites: Fluke fishing season starts this week

Fluke David Lapham

could basically live on flatfish. Whether baked, broiled, sautéed or just served raw, the many varieties of flatfish are versatile in the kitchen. They all have a mild, slightly sweet flavor to some degree and offer a delicious pescatarian option for those (including me) who don’t necessarily hanker for the “fishier” tastes of bluefish, mackerel or sardines.

Don’t overthink the terminology of flatfish when selecting them at your fishmonger. Fluke (also called summer flounder), winter flounder and other variations such as the pricier sole are interchangeable when it comes to cooking. And if you fish in the region or know someone who does, we’re in winter flounder season now (April 1 to May 30) and will soon be in season for fluke (May 17 to September 21).

Baked, rolled fluke is a simple preparation that looks especially elegant when served family-style in the dish in which it was cooked. And like other installments of Island Bites, I gravitate toward recipes that use ingredients many people already have in their kitchen — in this case, bread crumbs, capers, olive oil, and a lemon or two.

For a side, how about choosing something that’s also in season, like asparagus?  It’s perfect either grilled or roasted.  Don’t hesitate to email me at david@chefdavidlapham.com with any questions about this recipe or cooking in general.  I’d love to hear from you.

Bon appetit!

Oven-Baked & Rolled Fluke

Serves 4  |  Cooking time: about 25 minutes

4 skinless fillets of fluke (about one pound)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

3 teaspoons dried oregano

1/3 cup chopped parsley

7 or 8 slices lemon (about ¼” thick)

½ cup white wine or vermouth

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons capers (rinsed of brine and/or salt)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in the middle of oven.

In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley and two tablespoons of the olive oil. Mix well until incorporated.

Coat the bottom of a 9’’ x 13’’ pan with softened butter, then arrange lemon slices in a single layer. Add white wine and lemon juice.

On a cutting board or workspace, arrange each piece of fluke and rub ½ cup of the breadcrumbs onto the fish. Starting with the narrower side, roll each fillet (with breadcrumbs on the inside). Arrange each roll in the baking dish and sprinkle remaining bread crumbs and capers over the rolls. Drizzle the rolls with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Be sure each diner gets a spoonful of sauce when serving … that’s the best part!

Chef’s note: Making your own breadcrumbs is simple and satisfying. Just pulse leftover bread in a food processor with a good pinch of salt and pepper until finely ground. Add dried oregano, rosemary or other herbs for more flavor. Store in refrigerator for one week or freeze for later use.