Facebook is great at reminding me of my memories. Sometimes, they are memories that are painful and could do without recalling, like a loved one’s death. Other times, they are memories that still make me laugh out loud just thinking of them. And this week, it was sharing a memory of one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
We were in Chincoteague – one of our favorite spots – for a seafood festival and some surf fishing. The striper (striped bass aka rock bass) were running the coastline, and the possibility of catching one was exciting. Our travelling companions were lucky enough to land a ‘keeper’, and we are lucky enough to have awesome cooks and fishing experts for best friends! The photo I snapped below is not the best, but the meal – fresh from the surf to the fillet table to the grill to my plate – was heavenly 😊.
Typically, we eat fish once or twice a week. With all that is happening in the American meat-processing industry right now, fish is probably going to be a larger part of our diets for a while. That means I need more ways to prepare it, so I got creative with some existing preparations for these mushroom stuffed flounder rolls. Then I paired them with asparagus pieces seasoned with salt, pepper, and Parmesan all ready for roasting.
My starting point came from a Weight Watchers cookbook circa the early 1980s; I gave it a probably not-so-calorie-friendly twist with a sauce from another favorite fish recipe. The mushroom stuffing uses basic ingredients: garlic, mushrooms, scallions and parsley. A brief bath in the frying pan with some olive oil until golden brown and some chopping yields the stuffing mix for the flounder fillets – thinner works better for rolling.
Thin asparagus spears cook to crisp-tender with the fish when cut into bite-size pieces – with thicker stalks, I would probably roast them separately to ensure my fish wasn’t over-cooked. I simply coat these pieces with some olive oil, then season them lightly with fresh-cracked black pepper, garlic salt, and Parmesan cheese.
After nestling the fish and asparagus together into my roasting dishes, it was time for the topping sauce: a combination of mayonnaise, butter and lemon juice, hence more fattening.
Mayonnaise keeps the fish moist while the butter and lemon juice flavor the flounder without overwhelming it. I topped the fish with a spoonful or two of the sauce, using the back of my spoon to spread it to cover the flounder rolls. Another shake of Parmesan over the fish ties all the flavors of the dish together. I simply love the fact that I can cook and serve in the same dish, and with a buttered roll on the side, it’s a complete meal.
There was no seafood festival this year, no chance to catch any striper running, and no opportunity to re-create that extremely fresh and tasty dinner. With sustainable and wild-caught fish available, I can still build some delicious meals – and next year, maybe the striper will be even bigger! 😊
Mushroom Stuffed Flounder with Roasted Parmesan Asparagus
1.5 lbs/675 grams thinly-cut flounder fillets
8 oz. / 250 g sliced mushrooms
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch thin asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut into 1”/2.5 cm pieces
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, washed and stems removed from leaves
2 Tbsp / 30 ml mayonnaise
2 Tbsp/ 30 ml butter, melted
2 tsp / 10 ml lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan cheese
Brown mushrooms with scallions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until golden brown and tender. Add parsley, chop coarsely, and season with salt and pepper.
While mushrooms are browning, trim and chop the asparagus. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic salt. Spoon into one end of a lightly greased baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350 F/ 175 C. While oven preheats, roll up each flounder fillet with the mushroom mixture inside, securing with toothpicks. Place in the baking dish opposite the asparagus and season with salt and pepper.
Melt the butter, then stir in the mayonnaise and lemon juice until well mixed. Pour a little over each fish fillet and spread with the back of a spoon to cover most of the fish. Top with more grated parmesan cheese, pop into the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork and asparagus is crisp-tender.