When my husband and I were first married we lived on the coast of California right outside of Monterey. What a terrible place to live! Great weather, world-class restaurants, stunning ocean beaches all within 10 miles. This is where most of the strawberries, garlic, lettuce and artichokes are grown that people enjoy all over the United States. There were 2, year around farmers markets and dozens of organic farms within a 1/2 an hour drive.
I worked for a couple of years at a wharf side seafood restaurant in Monterey. It seemed that after going to see all of the wonderful fish at the aquarium at Monterey Bay people wanted to eat fish. While working in a seafood restaurants it was one of the first times in my life where I ate fish regularly. Not just at the restaurant I worked at but some of the other restaurants in the area. I can remember having a cioppino in a little French restaurant with only 6 tables that tasted of the sea, sunshine and fresh fields. We loved to go to a little clam chowder shack and have clam chowder in freshly baked bread bowls. Not the kind you find in chain restaurants but real freshly baked tangy, tender and crunchy crusted sourdough. I can recall a calamari dish that I can honestly claim had the most tender and flavorful calamari I have ever eaten. I frankly have stopped ordering calamari at restaurants because it never lives up to my expectations after the calamari from Monterey Bay. One evening when my husband and I were driving home late I looked out over the bay and it was beautifully lit with little white lights. Those were the calamari boats out fishing in the early hours of the morning. It was one of the most captivating sights I have ever seen.
We do not eat enough fish in my household these days. I have been reading about sustainability issues and seafood and am committed to serving, to my family, more fresh fish that is sustainably farmed. This brings me back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and its wonderful website on sustainable fish and seafood. You can download and print and fish and seafood buyers guide that will tell you which fish to choose for the most sustainable choice. The Seafood and Fish Buyers Guild.
I have found out, from the seafood buyers guide, that the flounder that I have purchased from Whole Foods is actually a recommended substitute but not the most sustainable choice. I am now downloading the app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium so that I can know while at the store what is the best choice.
Tonight my fish entrée features flounder. This mild tasting white fish has a sweet flavor. If you do not like the “fishy” tasting fish then flounder is a good choice. It has such a mild flavor that it will take on the flavors of the added ingredients. I added some sweet grape tomatoes, sweet sun burst tomatoes, fresh thyme, rosemary, lemon juice and minced shallots and just piled it all on top with a good drizzle of olive oil and roasted it in the oven on broil. This is similar to the way I prepared Chicken with Feta, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Fresh Herbs.
The best thing about cooking fish for dinner is it cooks quickly. This dish took about 10 minutes to throw together and roasted in the oven on broil for 10 minutes.
Flounder is a lean fish so you need to cook it quickly and with liquid. The juices from the tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil help keep the fish moist during broiling and will mix with the juice released from the fish for a light and flavorful sauce.
Flounder with Fresh Herbs, Lemon, Tomatoes and Shallots
4 Flounder Fillets
8-10 Grape Tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise
8-10 Sun Burst Tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 Shallot Minced
6-8 Sprigs Fresh Thyme minced
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary minced
2 TBS Fresh Lemon Juice
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pre-heat oven to broil or as high as you can set it. I used broil setting on high. Spread 1 TBS olive oil on bottom of baking dish. Lay fish in a single layer on top of oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Pour over lemon juice and top with shallots, herbs and tomatoes. Top with remaining olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes or until fish is completely white and flakes apart easily.