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Baked Flounder Menu

by Fred Decker

Flounder and other flatfish are convenient for cooks to work with, yielding four compact fillets rather than the two large fillets of conventionally shaped fish. Flounder is a fine-textured fish and prone to break into pieces when cooked, which makes it tricky for pan-frying. A better technique is to bake the flounder, which eliminates the need to turn it.

Planning Your Menu

When planning a full menu around a baked flounder dish, the rest of your choices hinge on how you prepare the flounder. Its delicate flavor is overwhelmed very easily by rich sauces, so in most cases the simplest recipes are best. Keeping your main dish light and simple has the added benefit of making the rest of your menu more flexible. If the dish itself is light, you'll have the option of using richer ingredients or more intenser flavors in your appetizers or your dessert.

Appetizers and First Course

If you are serving appetizers with your meal, make them very small so they're not too filling. They should be savory enough to pique your guests' appetite, but not overwhelm their taste buds before the main event. Small shrimp or anchovy appetizers on tiny crackers are always an appropriate starting point for a seafood meal, or cucumber cups filled with herbed cream cheese. For a first course, a small portion of a cream soup is a suitable prelude to a light entree. So is a fresh-flavored salad, such as apples and shaved fennel in a yogurt-based dressing or a green salad with croutons and Caesar dressing.

Entree

Flounder bakes very quickly, so be ready with your side dishes when it goes into the oven. Some bake flounder on a parchment-lined sheet pan, dotted with butter and lightly seasoned. Others prefer to bake the fish in a shallow dish with a liquid, usually fish broth or white wine, to protect it from overcooking and add flavor. In any case the side dishes should be similarly light and delicate in flavor. Try rice or baby potatoes, and steamed new vegetables as side dishes. A flavor-infused olive oil makes a healthy and delicious sauce, or simply pass wedges of lemon.

Dessert

After an entree with light and clean flavors, dessert can be richer but should still offer clean, low-key flavors in order to complement the entree. A simple, elegant vanilla bean creme brulee would be a satisfying option, or a parfait of vanilla custard and fresh fruit. For a lighter alternative, try making panna cotta. It's a custard-like Italian dessert set with gelatin instead of eggs and starch, making it much lighter but still flavorful. Alternatively, set out a board with dried fruit, toasted nuts and a few good cheeses as a more sophisticated end to the meal.

About the Author

Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

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