Steamed Whole Flounder ‘Chinese Style’ with Garlic, Chilli, Ginger & Soy
by Nigel Bloxham from Crab House Café (RMC Books)
A great fish, the flounder. It’s found in the sea & estuaries at certain times of the year. It likes fresh water & comes up the estuaries to breed. It’s very popular with the Americans – they’ve got huge estuaries so they eat a lot of flounder. It’s often considered a poor man’s plaice. It’s sometimes described as muddy in flavour but I don't think it is. I think it’s just a characteristic fish that’s strong flavoured, & can take strong flavours with it like garlic, chilli & ginger. That’s why we serve it Chinese style with some Chinese-style vegetables. It’s great & very easy to do – a great supper dish.
Prep time 15 mins
Cooking time 15 mins
4 whole flounder (skinned and trimmed - get your fishmonger to do it!), approx. 340g each (or substitute with plaice, brill, witch, megrim or dab)
4 tbsp of garlic & ginger mix (see recipe below)
Mixed Chinese-style vegetables (i.e. bean sprouts, mooli radishes, water chestnuts, shredded cabbage – whatever you’ve got around)
1 glass white wine
Fresh chilli, finely chopped (quantity depends on your preference for heat… ½ red & ½ green chilli per fish)
1 lime, sliced
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp rapeseed or any other oil
Pre-heat your oven to around 200C / gas mark 6.
Place your Chinese-style vegetables on a baking tray.
Score the flounder 3-4 times across the backbone. Put the garlic & ginger mix into the cuts you’ve made. Place the fish on top of the vegetables. Top the fish with the chopped chilli & slices of lime.
Pour the wine over the fish & vegetables, wrap the tray in foil & put into the oven. Bake for around 15 mins.
While the fish is cooking, pour the soy sauce & oil into a bottle & give it a good shake to mix.
Once the fish is cooked, use a fish slice to put each portion onto the plates. Put the fish slice under the thick, heavy end of the fish & pick it up along with the vegetables.
Pour the soy sauce & oil mixture onto the tray, then pour this from the corner of the tray onto the plates as a dressing. The soy will split & make pretty patterns. This is great for dipping your fish into as you’re eating.
Serve with rice.
Try rice wine or sake instead of white wine (or cider).
Garlic & ginger mix (Chinese style)
2 bulbs garlic
Root ginger, about the size of your thumb
1 tbsp fish or soy sauce
2 stalks lemon grass
Chop the bottom roots off the garlic & pull the wood from the centre of the bulb. Put into a food processor.
Peel the ginger. Don't worry about getting every last bit of skin off. Chop roughly & put into the food processor.
Pour in the fish or soy sauce.
Chop the lemongrass into small bits & add to the food processor.
Blitz until it reaches a stuffing-like consistency. This mixture sometimes goes quite green. Don't worry! This is perfectly normal & the colour will disappear in the cooking.