Back to basics: almond flounder meuniere

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.

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19 Responses to Back to basics: almond flounder meuniere

  1. Elaine says:

    So true. We didn’t eat fish all that often while I was growing up either – I always thought that maybe it was because my parents didn’t like fish, but now that I think back – with five kids it had to be because it was expensive. Your flounder looks delicious. What a cute photo of your little girl.

  2. I’m Italian American and from the coast of the Northeast. I was really fortunate to always have fresh fish.

  3. I think it’s time for me to check that cookbook out of the library again!

  4. Ei says:

    We rarely ate seafood growing up, because of the cost (and because my brother and I pitched a fit whenever my mom tried). To this day, shrimp are my mom’s special luxury dinner. She literally orders shrimp every time she goes out to eat. I’m glad your kids ate the fish! Mine wouldn’t touch it. No surprise there. If it’s not pasta or a piece of fruit, he won’t let it near his mouth. I sure hope he outgrows that.

  5. Great post. I wonder too if we simply have access to a wider variety of foods today. I can’t imagine my mother cooking 90% of the recipes in Dorie’s book, but maybe that’s because did not grow up with access to all those ingredients.

  6. Good reading – I grew up in Montana and we only had fish when my dad brought trout home from fishing trips. I guess our food was simple in that terms that it was caught, shot or picked from the garden and all the above either preserved by canning or frozen. Now we have so many sources for food, including the internet that simplicity has somewhat been lost.

    The asparagus dish looks terrific as does your flounder!

  7. I was just thinking after making this dish that we need to eat more fish and veggies also! This one is a good start, with a little less butter.

  8. betsy says:

    I have always lived on the east coast, so fish has been a regular at my table. That asparagus salad looks amazing. Perfect to go with the fish. Yum!

  9. I couldn’t find flounder either, I didn’t even think frozen…duh. Looks
    Ike it was a delicious dinner!

  10. Elin says:

    Over here ,fish is expensive too but we can managed alright 🙂 I am lucky to be able to get fresh flounder at the supermarket and get to join all of you in making this delicious dish. Yours looks good 🙂

  11. Alice says:

    I think the “expense” of fish really depends on where you are at. Here in England, crab is very expensive compared to Seattle – where me moved from where it is fairly inexpensive and certainly not any more expensive than cooking steaks for a family of 6. Also the varieties and seasons tend to dictate costs but I find that there is always good fish that is inexpensive no matter where you are, but you have to see what is local and easy to get to stay in that “price point” 🙂 Great job!

  12. nana says:

    I just mentioned to hubby that I assumed all fish was everywhere. After reading the various blogs today, how wrong I am. Living on the East coast we are so use to having many wonderful goodies that I forget it is not like that in all places. Your fish looks wonderful as well as the
    veggies. Tricia and I both enjoyed this one and will definitely make it again soon.

  13. Cher says:

    Growing up, the only time we really ate fish (other than canned tuna) was when we caught it from the lake (usually during the summer when we were up at camp).
    Very lovely & I like the salad you paired with it.

  14. This fish dish is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, so I love that it’s so easy to prepare. A basic staple indeed!

  15. Kathy says:

    Fish was often on our menu when I was growing up. I really enjoy fish and try to make it once a week. I thought this dish was easy and quite good! Your fish and salad look wonderfully delicious! Your little girl is beautiful!

  16. Thanks, Kathy! She is beautiful below the surface, too.

  17. Mary Hirsch says:

    What a wonderful essay of memories, a nice post. I also grew up in the Midwest, Iowa, and, when you looked around, didn’t see water, so, no fresh fish of any kind. My Mother was a meat and potatoes gal. I cannot remember her ever, ever cooking fish. Why would she when she had a cow and a pig, from the county fair, butchered and in the freezer. My favorite meal when we went to eat at the only fancy restaurant in town (and, that wasn’t too often) was fried shrimp. I loved it. Thanks for reminding me of long ago days.

  18. Mary Hirsch says:

    I forgot to mention, what a darling little angel. She does look like she has a mind of her own, however. Am I right?

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