The Simple Art of Cooking: Flounder From The Salty Sea

I visited Natalie and Steve Judelson’s salt farm in Amagansett and was delighted to see the process of their natural salt, which required only sun, wind and a strong back, as Steve harvests the salt from the waters in Amagansett. It was fun to see the tiny hoop houses on stilted tables where large food-grade black plastic trays hold the salt in different stages of the salt process. The salt is entirely made by hand. I find myself using the salt more and more as a finishing salt, as the grains are nicely milled and tactical to pick up and spray from my fingers.

Scott Chaskey of the Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett is the Salt Farm’s next door neighbor. Scott alighted from his big red tractor and hopped over to greet us. I reminded him of how he introduced me to garlic scapes when I was working on my book, Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End, and how they’ve become a popular farm stand item. He quickly hopped over to the Quail Hill side of the fence to bring back an armload of garlic scapes. (There’s a wonderful recipe for them with beet greens in Savoring.) This time, at Scott’s suggestion, I seasoned the curlicue scapes with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and threw them on the grill for about 4 to 5 minutes until they were charred. They do tend to be a bit chewy, and a subtle garlic flavor comes through. (Garlic scapes are the edible flower stems that garlic plants produce before the bulbs mature.)

The aroma from our seasonal local flounder simply wafts of the salty sea. The simplicity of the recipe below, which is seasoned with just salt, pepper, a smear of sour cream and Dijon mustard, and then it is broiled and drizzled with lime juice, is not to be missed. Serve it with baby zucchini, summer squash and fresh herbs from your garden and voilà, a delicious simple supper.

 

FLOUNDER FROM THE SALTY SEA

Easy to cook and delicious to eat.

Serves 4

4 to 6 large or 8 small fresh flounder fillets

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon sour cream

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice

Local sea salt

Coarsely chopped parsley for garnish

Adjust oven rack to 3 to 4 inches below broiler element. Preheat broiler.

1. Rinse fillets and pat dry with paper towel. Place the fillets one layer deep, on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Season each fillet with salt and pepper.

2. Mix the sour cream and Dijon mustard, and spoon a thin layer over the top of each fillet.

Spread a thin layer of the mixture over each fillet. Place under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes. Lightly poke a finger to test for doneness. If the fish springs back, it is done.

Remove from oven and sprinkle each fillet with the lime juice, a light sprinkle of sea salt and chopped parsley. Suggested serving: baby zucchini with summer squash and baked sweet potato.

Note: I had flounder leftovers even two days after they were prepared. They were absolutely delicious out of the fridge.

 

BABY ZUCCHINI AND SUMMER SQUASH

I stopped off at Balsam farms in Amagansett the other day and there were these adorable baby zucchini, which I couldn’t resist.

Serves 4

8 mini zucchini and summer squash

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons mixed chopped herbs, such as basil, chives and tarragon

1. Scrub zucchini and squash clean with a vegetable brush and dry with paper towel. Trim the ends and discard them. Slice the zucchini thin on the diagonal.

2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and put in the zucchini and yellow squash. Stir and toss the vegetables until tender and lightly golden on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Stir in herb mixture and toss gently until vegetable is well coated with the herbs.

 

RHUBARB COMPOTE

Versatile and refreshing, this light compote can be served with fish or meat. Or, for dessert, over ice cream.

Yield: about 6 cups

 

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, leaves discarded

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Grated zest of 1 navel orange

Juice of 1 large navel orange

 

1. Rinse rhubarb stalks and cut into 1-inch pieces. Put into a heavy saucepan with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest and orange juice. Simmer over low heat until the rhubarb has broken down, about 8 to10 minutes. Taste to adjust sweetness as necessary. For dessert, serve warm or chilled over ice cream or frozen yogurt, if desired.

Note: leftovers can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 weeks.

 

Visit www.savoringthehamptons.com for Silvia’s website, current blogs and recipes.

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