Dec 16, 2009

Poke It With a Stick

My dad gave us one of these:
Flounders are weird fish, but I love to eat 'em.

I love to catch 'em too.  Although "catch" is the wrong word.  While my dad caught these on a line fishing the bottom, I prefer to poke 'em with a stick.

Or gigging, as it's called.  I've mentioned going to Grand Isle many times on here.  One of my favorite things to do there is gig for flounder.  It's done at night, wading in shallow, clean (clear) water with a lantern and a gig--a pole of some sort with 2 or three prongs.  I loved walking around in the bay or around the rock jetties at the end of the island, shining the lantern in the water hunting for flounder.  Got to see a whole bunch of other creatures too.  Various types of minnows that would peck at my dad said they were eating dead skin, squid, crabs, lots of things.  Much more interesting to watch them at night, I always thought.  It was both exciting and scary to be out in the water at night.  No telling what was beyond the small circle of light cast by the lantern.

My brothers and I were on the lookout for oval shaped mounds in the sand.  That could mean a flouner.  It could also mean a sting ray, but let's stay positive here.  If the sandy mound was a flounder, which lie on the bottom, covered with sand with only their eyes poking out, we'd jab the points of the gig in them.  Aiming for the gill area.  None of us ever stabbed our feet, but I have heard of people doing that.  Gotta be careful!   Something else to be careful with is not getting your lantern wet.  If the hot glass is splashed, the glass could explode.  My dad was always fussin' about us splashing near the lantern.

Once my dad was sure the gig went through the flounder and we had him good, he'd reach down and grab the flounder while one of us (me or my brothers) pinned it down with the gig.  He'd then toss it in a mesh crawfish sack he had threaded through his belt.  Then we'd be on our way looking for more raised ovals on the Gulf floor to poke with a stick.

I liked the savagery of obtaining food with a pointy stick.  I liked the wonder of watching sea life at night.  And I liked that so much black sky above me and black waters around me on those hot summer nights made me feel insignificant and small yet powerful all at the same time.  The idea of being a speck in the middle of all that blackness wasn't lost on me even as a child.  Staring out away from the shore and into the Gulf...all that darkness around could be oppressive, feeling like everything was closing in.  Or, all the possibilities in that darkness could be liberating.  Depends on how you look at it I guess.

First, prep the flounder.  My dad already cut off the head, which also means the guts are gone too.  All of the organs are located up near the head on a flounder.  I don't take the skin off until after it bakes...helps hold in moisture, I think.

Make a slit down the center of the fish (lengthwise).  Cut to the bone.

Working where the slit is, pry a small amount of meat away from the bones.  Enough to get the tip of a knife into.

Slice the meat away from the skeleton as you would if filleting a fish, only don't completely remove the flap of meat.

The meat has been cut away from the skeleton, but is still attached to the body.  Do the same on the second side.

Yeah, like that. 
Boy, that little hand wants to touch the flounder so bad!
Put the flounder aside. 
We'll come back to it "after while" (as my grandma would say).
Some people know how to debone flounder.  We are not those people.

Here's the mis en place for the stuffing.  Today, I'm doing a crab stuffing.  You'll need saltine crackers, cooked crab, mayo, Creole seasoning, lemon, yellow onion, green onion, and parsley.  Also a small amount of olive oil.
Sometimes I mix small cooked shrimp in with the crab stuffing.

Heat about 1 tsp of olive oil in a skillet.  Saute the yellow onion and green onion until softened.

Turn off the fire and add the parsley, cracker crumbs, mayo, seasoning, crab, and lemon juice.  I decided at the last minute to add some parmesan cheese too.  It was good!
Mix everything together.  If the mixture seems too wet, add more cracker crumbs.  Too dry?  Add a touch more mayo.  It's very forgiving.

Getting back to the the flaps and season with salt and pepper.  If you've also decided to use parmesan cheese, be careful about how much salt you use.

Place the flounder on the pan you'll use for baking.  Fill the opening with 3/4 of the stuffing.

Close the flaps back up.  Then take the rest of the stuffing and place on top of the flounder, where you made the lengthwise cut.

There ya' go!  Ready for the oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 min.  This really all depends on how large your flounder is.

While the flounder bakes, the garlic lemon cream sauce can be made.  You'll need garlic, lemon, and cream (didn't see that comin', did ya'?).  You'll also need butter, salt, and pepper.  Some people might prefer white pepper since it won't fleck up the sauce.  I'm using black pepper because I don't care if my sauce is flecked up.

Melt the butter and saute the garlic over low heat until soft.  Add the cream and boil to thicken.  Keep in mind that cream "grows" when it boils.  Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

The flounder is all baked up and the sauce is ready to go.  I like to peel the skin off before serving.  It'll come off easy.

Crab Stuffed Flounder with Garlic Lemon Cream Sauce.
That's a mouthful.
Served here with Corn Maque Chou.

Crab Stuffed Flounder with Garlic Lemon Cream Sauce
from Ms. enPlace

2 whole small founder, or 1 large
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 Tbsp chopped green onion
½ c cracker crumbs
1 c cooked crab meat, free of shells
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Cajun or Creole seasoning, to taste
salt and pepper

Remove head from each flounder and gut.  Cut a slit down the center of each flounder (lengthwise).  Cut the flesh away from the bones as you would when filleting, but do not completely remove from the fish.  Do this on both sides of the center line.

Sauté the onion and green onion in olive oil until soft.

Mix onions with the remaining ingredients to make stuffing. If the mixture is too dry, add more mayo. If too wet, add more cracker crumbs.

Season the flounder with salt and pepper and stuff with ¾ of the crab mixture. Close the flounder up and fill the lengthwise cut with remaining crab mixture. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes, or until flounder is cooked through (depends on the size of the flounder).

For Garlic Lemon Cream Sauce:
1 clove garlic, minced
Tbsp butter
about ½ c cream
about ½ T lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Cook garlic in butter on low heat until tender. Add cream and boil to thicken. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Peel skin from flunder and serve topped with garlic lemon cream sauce.

*Notes: small cooked can also be added to the stuffing mixture.

1 comment:

  1. You definitely get major points for fish at night with a stick, amidst who knows what lurking in the waters! Very brave. Garlic, lemon and cream sauce sounds delicious served over anything!!


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