Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sauteed Flounder and a side of Peconic Bay Scallops

This time of year I am hard pressed to find a lot of regional foods, but among the best are Long Island bay scallops. A tough time of year for baymen and baywomen, scallop season around here is from November through March, which in case you are wondering is very cold and windy on the water. Peconic Bay is in between the North and South forks of Long Island and a famous bay for scallops and oysters-- you may know the the Shinnecock Canel in Hampton Bays which runs between the Shinnecock (where our house is) and Peconic Bays.

You decide if it's worth the (yikes) $25.99/lb for local scallops, but over the weekend I bought about a third of a pound of fresh, sweet, tender Peconic Bay scallops with a hint of brine, along with a half a dozen fillets of local flounder from The Clamman in Southampton and made a must-do-again meal for Henry, Cory and Camille on Saturday night.

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HISTORY
Scallops on Long Island

In the 1980s, Long Island's Peconic Bay experienced a brown tide algae bloom which devastated and nearly wiped out the shellfish from this brackish water estuary. With extensive marine management and reseeding programs over the past two decades, Long Island's famous oysters, clams and scallops have made a modestsl comeback with annual estimates in the 3,000-30,000 pound range or a fraction of the 1980s levels of nearly a half a million pounds of scallops. According to Riverhead's News-Review on Nov. 13, 2008
In 1982, the harvest of 500,000 pounds of bay scallops from the Peconic estuary accounted for 28 percent of all U.S. commercial landings and had a dockside value of $1.8 million.... After the appearance of the brown tide in 1985, the bay scallop population was virtually eliminated. And the commercial shellfishing industry in the Peconics nearly collapsed.
ABOUT THE SEAFOOD
Clamman Seafood Market
235A North Sea Road
Southampton, NY
631-283-6669
www.clamman.com

The Clamman has a large variety of fresh fish and is among several fishmongers that the Owsley Van de Walle clan frequents on the South Fork. Their sinfully rich New England clam chowder is among the better ones that I've had, with several layers of flavor, and more of a light brown color than white and reminiscent of a recipe that uses a Southern-style butter and flour roux that's been cooked to perfection. Although I often thin it out with skim milk, my husband enjoys it "full strenghth". My personal favorite at Clamman is the Manhattan-style tomato based chowder (or better know in our house as Chow-da!).

RECIPE
Cajun-Style Montauk Flounder with Corn Meal

4-6 fillets of flounder (or summer Fluke, in season)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of course yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons of creole spice mix*
3 tablespoons of butter

*Creole spice mix -- recipe below-- is a combination of several spices. Make it and store it for future use. Stir together all of the ingredients and store in a dry cool container. Makes 12 Tablespoons.

CREOLE SPICE MIX
3 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated onion or onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

1. Pat dry fillets with a paper towel to remove any moisture.
2. Beat one egg in a bowl and set aside
3. On a large dinner plate, combine cornmeal with creole spice mix.
4. Dip one fillet at a time in egg batter using just enough to cover fillet. Let excess egg drip off so as not to glop up the cornmeal. Then, place egg covered fillet into the cornmeal mix, turning a few times until it's coated evenly with spicy cornmeal. Set cornmeal covered fillets aside on a clean plate until all of the fillets have been coated.
5. Heat one half of the butter on a medium high heat in a large skillet. When butter is bubbling, cook 2-4 fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side until just cooked through being careful not to tear the tender meat. Do not overcrowd the pan or the flounder will steam not brown.
6. Add the other half of the butter to the pan and cook the remaining fillets.

Serve immediately. Tonight we served the flounder over rice.

RECIPE
Montauk Flounder Almondine


4-6 fillets of flounder
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of all purpose flour
3 tablespoons of dried parsley
3 tablespoons of butter
Cooked rice

Sauce
5 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of slivered almonds

1. Using the same cooking method as the Creole-style flounder above substitute white flour for cornmeal and use three tablespoons of dried parsley instead of the creole mix.

2. While the last batch of fillets is cooking, heat the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan and add the slivered almonds. Stir constantly until almonds begin to brown.

Plate the cooked flounder fillets in the kitchen. Place a half a cup of rice on the plate, top with 1-2 fillets and spoon buttery almondine sauce on top of fillet and serve.

RECIPE
Peconic Bay Scallops - Simple Saute

1 pound LOCAL, PECONIC BAY scallops (or Nantucket scallops)
3 tablespoons butter
Lemon slices

NOTE: Pat scallops dry to remove excess moisture and cook in batches of about 1/3 of a pound so the pan is not crowded and the scallops brown.
For tender scallops do not over cook. overcooked scallops are rubbery.

1. Heat a large heavy skillet on high heat and melt one tablespoon of butter.
2. Add one third of the scallops and cook over high heat until brown, or about 3 minutes.
3. Turn browned scallops over and continue cooking until still slightly uncooked in the middle, about 2 additional minutes.
Store slightly undercooked scallops on a plate and cover with foil (they will continue to cook under the foil). Repeat until all three batches are cooked. Toss all the scallops back in for a minute to finish cooking and heat through.

Serve immediately with slices of lemon. Tonight we had them over rice.

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