I kicked off my summer cooking a little early this year, the second weekend in May to be exact, when my friend Sarah and I were in Martha’s Vineyard. Don’t let this past week’s group of grilling recipes fool you: charcoal is not what summer food really means to me. S’mores, perhaps. But really it’s the seafood, especially the varieties that you are hard-pressed to find off-island.
One of the dishes that I grew up eating every summer on the vineyard was crispy fried yellowtail flounder. My mother, ever the glutard, used to dredge them in millet flour and pan fry them until gold brown and just begging for tartar sauce.
The little yellowtail flounder fillets found in fish shops on the vineyard are particularly cut out for the job, as they maximize the crispy coating to tender fish ratio and cook up in a matter of seconds. I haven’t found an apt equivalent back in New York. But if you’re looking, just go with any small, thin white fish – potentially grey sole, or the tiniest flounder fillets you can find.
Anyway, Sarah came up to the island last summer for a few days and we attempted to recreate my mother’s yellowtail magic. I remember there being no millet flour on hand, so the result was delicious, but just not as good as I knew it could be. (For more on ideal GF flours for seafood, click here). Sarah, not knowing the difference, was in love. So this time around, the moment we fled the preplanned Wine Festival activities, her first question was: when are we making fried fish.
I usually don’t post recipes for more formally composed plates on this site. Nor do I share recipes that require more niche ingredients like, well, yellowtail flounder. But this meal was beyond delicious. So much so that I know it cannot be replicated, but any small attempt will be worth the while in some degree of yumminess.
The second component that was all the more special because of the vineyard produce at hand was the pink greens. We used red chard, red bok choy and a variety of other Asian greens from Morning Glory Farm. You can definitely play around with these combinations, but the red chard and bok choy made for a nice pairing.
I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend full of all the foods that welcome summer in your world!
Crispy Flounder with Bok Choy, Tatsoi, and Coconut Rice
- One 15-ounce can coconut milk divided
- 1 cup white jasmine rice
- Olive oil
- 1 large shallot thinly sliced
- 1 large garlic clove sliced
- 2 red bok choy or regular, thinly sliced
- 6 red chard leaves thick stems removed, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch tatsoi thinly sliced
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 cup millet flour
- 3/4 pound flounder the smallest, thinnest fillets you an find
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups coconut milk to a boil over medium-high heat, being careful that it doesn't boil over the pot. Stir in the rice and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and rest 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
In a large cast iron or non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallot until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Stir in the bok choy, chard, and tatsoi. Saute until beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, coconut milk, and soy sauce. Simmer until the chard stems are tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as necessary. Transfer to a bowl.
Rinse out the skillet and wipe clean. Coat the pan with a thin layer of olive oil and set it over a high flame.
Add the millet flour to a large plate. Dredge the fish fillets with the flour until well-coated, shaking off any excess. Fry the fish in batches until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat with the remaining fish. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the rice between two plates. Top with the greens and crispy fish. Serve alongside aioli, if that's your bag.