Tue Apr 3, 2012
I just realized that I have one day left of Lent to get in a fish recipe—although I've effectively missed every Friday by now. Not surprising that this fell of my radar since a) I'm not Catholic, b) I probably wouldn't give up meat if I were, and c) even if I did give up meat for a day, I probably wouldn't turn to fish. Never-the-less, I've had this planked flounder with a cilantro-lime butter in the reserves for just such an occasion as now, and this just happens to be one of the few fish dishes I've made that I actually found my seafood-averse self enjoying.
So why did I end up liking this fish? It's because I packed it with flavors that I can't resist. This started with a compound butter that added serranos for heat, cilantro for freshness, and lime juice for an acid. Simple and delicious, this could go great on chicken, pork, or beef, but I specifically made it play against the gentleness of a filet of fish by livening it up, but not overpowering it.
Second I chose a fish with a light flavor, so the flavors I did add to it would have a nice influence on the end result. The best looking filet that fit this bill the day I went to fish monger was flounder. Fresh, with almost no trace of a fishy smell, I brought two pieces home and gave them a rub down with salt, pepper, and chili powder mixture.
Third I chose a cooking method to impart even more flavor onto the filets—planking. To get this cedar plank started, I grilled it sans-fish until it just started to char and wisps of smoke began emitting from the underside of the plank. This ensured more of that soft woodsy and smoky planking flavor would get imparted on the fish.
With the plank ready, the filet was laid on top, and let cook over indirect heat until the fish just turned opaque and started to flake. While I'm not much of a fish eater, I have come to learn the magics of grilling fish properly on a fire, and I don't think I've ever ended with a piece that was dried out or charred once I got the hang of it.
Fish done, I spread a hefty portion of the cilantro-lime butter all over and dug in. My inclinations were correct in developing a flavor I would be sure to enjoy—the cilantro and lime added a kind of Tex-Mex brightness overall, with the serrano lending a hints of heat here and there. While all of these additions created a taste I loved, it also wasn't so heavy that it masked the delicate nature of the fish itself. This was important, because I'm trying to start liking fish for being fish, not for being fried or smothered in sauce. So I accomplished something big for me here, maybe not so big for others, but hey, at least you have a new recipe to try for
lent the spring.
Planked Flounder with Cilantro-Lime Butter
- Prep Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 35 Minutes
- 4 Servings
- For the Cilantro-Lime Butter
- 8 tablespoons of butter, softened
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 medium serrano chile, seeded and finely minced
- 2 large or 4 medium fillets of a flounder or other mild white fish, such as haddock or cod
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cedar planks, soaked for 1 hour prior to use
- In a small bowl, combine butter, serrano chile, cilantro, lime juice, and lime zest. Set aside.
- In another small bowl mix together salt, chili powder, and black pepper. Season both sides of fish with seasoning mixture.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place planks over hot side of the grill until it start to char and smoke. Flip planks over and move to cool side of grill and arrange fish on top. Cover grill and cook until fish is opaque and starts to flake, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove fish from the grill, spread with the cilantro-lime butter and serve.