One way to define basic cooking is as simple, unsophisticated, or plain. When I investigated the title of this dish, almond flounder meuniere (from Around My French Table) I learned that “meuniere” means “Miller’s wife” and thus refers to the rustic and simple method of dredging fish in flour before sauteing it in browned butter. Basic, sure, if your diet consists of access to fresh fish. Growing up in the Midwest, my diet only included fish on the occasional Friday when my mom made tuna fish salad, or on the very rare occasions when she purchased shrimp for my dad, and fried perch for us kids. She bought the fish already cooked, so I had no idea that it was so simple to bake, saute, boil, and otherwise prepare fish for meals.
My first real introduction to cooking fish came with my first husband, whose father was an avid fisherman, and who routinely put out crab pots in the Gulf of Mexico. When we visited, we always ate fresh fish, shrimp, crab, and oysters. I spent time with my former husband’s mom in the kitchen, watching as she prepared various delicacies. What was most surprising was how simple most fish and shellfish dishes were to prepare, but also how such simplicity led to delicious, flavorful, and healthy eating.
I’m comfortable cooking shrimp, mussels, oysters, and several other kinds of fish (including cod), but flounder was a new one for me. I couldn’t find fresh flounder, so had to settle for frozen filets, but the preparation was simple and the cook time minimal, so I would give this one a shot again if I can find fresh fish. As for the rustic theme, well, Gorilla Girl was helping her dad move the daffodils from the front to the side of the shed, so we filled our “rustic” quota for the day. Shovels were out, dirt was turned, plants were relocated.
The almond flounder meuniere was our Sunday dinner, and I accompanied it with asparagus with sautéed grape tomato and goat cheese, adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats. The best part of this meal, in addition to its simple yet wonderfully pleasing favor was Monkey Man’s declaration that the fish, “tastes like chicken!” Maybe that’s why my mom never bothered to feed us fish — our young and unsophisticated palates might not have even discerned the difference.
When I think of basic, meat and potatoes fills my food memory, and I’d like to change that to simple fish and vegetables. I suppose the ironic thing about this “basic” notion of eating healthy is that for those on a fixed budget, or for those who don’t have easy access to fresh foods, there is nothing “basic” about simple cooking. I know the reason my parents did not eat or prepare fish was its expense. I am lucky now to be able to purchase fish and fresh foods, despite the cost.