The trick to having seven fishes on the table at once is all about the planning. Combining quick last-minute dishes with a few dishes in the oven and a few cold items and you too can experience the dreamy Italian American Christmas Eve tradition at home. A quick saute technique like this Lemon Caper Flounder is a simple, cooked-at-the-last-minute dish for our feast this year. Rich frequently pulls out a lemon caper something, it could be scallops, sole is classic, it can be done with a thicker fish that finishes in the oven while you make the sauce. Quality of ingredients is always key, we found some lovely fresh yellowtail flounder. Flounder and sole are flatfish, on one side of the fish skin and the flesh beneath is white, on the other side the flesh is dark grey-green-brown and the flesh is darker. The white side is smaller from the same fish as well. Don’t be put off by the different colors, you’re looking for a shiny fish with responsive flesh. Gather up and prep your ingredients. Heat a large sauté pan and add some pomace olive oil or other light, high heat oil. Set up your station because you’re going to be working quickly. Fish on hand, second dish with mixture of flour, salt, and pepper, hot pan. Coat fish on both sides and lower, skin-side-down, carefully into the pan. Frying skin side first helps keep the flesh together when you turn it.
Work in batches, you want to give the fish room to fry properly.
You’ll start to see the edges brown slightly and the fish will cup up from the pan after two minutes. Flip the filets and brown on the second side. The fish will shrink as it cooks, so after flipping you can nestle another filet in.
If you were working with a thicker fish that needed more cooking, now would be the time to place it in a preheated 350 degree oven while you make the sauce. This flounder is cooked perfectly and we hold it at room temp until we finish the sauce.
Using the same pan, add the shallots and saute until they become translucent, scraping up the brown bits from the pan.
Add the parsley and lemon zest and incorporate. The sauce should have a richness to it now and coat a spoon.
- 1½ lb Flounder, Sole or other firm fleshed fish
- 1 TB olive oil
- ½ c of flour (or so for dredging)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 TB Lemon zest, slivered
- 4 TB Italian Parsley chiffonade (slivered in strips)
- 3 TB capers
- 1 med to small shallot finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- ¼ cup white wine
- juice of a whole medium or a whole large Lemon
- 6 TB butter
- pepper to taste
- Gather up and prep your ingredients.
- Set up your station because you're going to be working quickly.
- Fish on hand, second dish with mixture of flour, salt, and pepper.
- Heat a large sauté pan and add pomace olive oil or other light, high heat oil.
- Dredge flounder in flour to coat both sides and lower carefully, skin side down into hot oil one at a time.
- Don't crowd the pan. Work in batches, leaving room around the fish to fry properly.
- When you start to see the edges brown slightly, about two minutes flip the filets and brown on the second side.
- The fish will shrink as it cooks, so after flipping you can nestle another filet in.
- Remove the cooked filets to a clean plate, one by one, after the second side is cooked through. Add dredged fish to the pan as you go, until all fish is cooked.
- Using the same pan, add the shallots and saute until they become translucent, scraping up the brown bits from the pan.
- Add garlic, sauté a moment or two until nearly cooked through.
- Add capers, sauté.
- Add white wine and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce by half.
- Add the room temperature butter in pats and incorporate. The butter will emulsify with the acids and make a smooth silky sauce.
- Add the parsley and lemon zest and incorporate.
- Add generous pinch of pepper to taste (it is unlikely you will need to adjust for salt as the capers are plenty salty).
- The sauce should have a richness to it now and coat a spoon.
- Your sauce is ready, simply pour over your cooked flounder and serve.