Winter flounder—a.k.a. lemon sole when it’s big, and blackback flounder when it’s not—takes its name from the fact that it swims inshore to warmer waters during the winter months. But Long Island fisherman Phil Karlin says that he catches the firm-fleshed specimens well into June. (After that, look for summer flounder, a.k.a. fluke, at Karlin’s PE&DD Seafood stand at Greenmarket.) Most flounder, whether it be the winter or summer variety, is sold filleted. But cooking it whole, as in this recipe from Michael Lomonaco of Porter House New York, is the best way to retain its delicate flavor.
Michael Lomonaco’s Whole Roasted Flounder With Caper-and-Tomato Dressing
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 cup Italian parsley leaves, washed and dried
˝ cup onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
˝ pint grape tomatoes, sliced
2–3 pound whole flounder, skin on, cleaned and gutted with head removed
Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE DRESSING: In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, parsley, onion, lemon juice, capers, garlic, and tomatoes and place over low heat until warm, about 2–3 minutes. Allow the mixture to steep for a few minutes before serving.
FOR THE FISH: Preheat oven to 425. Rinse the gutted fish and pat dry. Brush both sides with two tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover a roasting pan with baker’s parchment paper to prevent sticking, and place the fish light skin side down in the pan. Place in oven and roast until the flesh turns white and pulls away from the bones, about 18–20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for a minute. to bone the fish: (1) Place fish on platter and, using the tip of a sharp knife, cut an outline of the top two fillets, tracing a line down the backbone and approximately an inch from the outside edge, from head to tail. Using a small spatula or a cake knife, remove the fillets separately by gently lifting them from the backbone outward and place them on serving plates. (2) Using the spatula or cake knife and a fork, carefully remove the backbone from the bottom fillets. Repeat with the tailbone. Separate the bottom fillets and plate them. (3) Drizzle with caper-and-tomato dressing and serve. Serves 4 appetizer portions.