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Flounder Poached in Coconut, Ginger & Basil Broth

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Serves six.

  • To learn more, read:
    Make Room for Basil
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 79

Though regular Genovese basil will add a lovely aroma to the Southeast Asian flavors of this dish, the slightly spicier, more anise-y notes of Thai or opal basil are an even better fit.

  • 6 skinless flounder fillets, 1 to 1-1/2 pounds total
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground white pepper
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger (I use a rasp-style grater)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped sweet basil or Thai basil
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced 1/8 inch thick on the diagonal (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small fresh hot red chile (or jalapeño), sliced into thin rings (seeds intact)
  • 1 cup homemade or low-salt chicken broth
  • 5-1/2-oz. can coconut milk
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, cooked
Tip:
Try tying the fillets with dark green scallion tops instead of using toothpicks. Dip the green tops in boiling water for 15 seconds so they’re pliable and tie in a loose knot around the rolled fish fillets.

Spread the fillets on a work surface, skin side down. Season lightly with salt and white pepper. Divide the 1 Tbs. grated ginger among the fillets and spread as evenly as you can. Sprinkle about 1 Tbs. of the chopped basil over the fillets. Roll each fillet, starting at the thicker end. Secure each roll with a toothpick (or green scallion tops (see the tip below). Sprinkle the rolls lightly with a little more salt and white pepper. Set aside.

In a small (4-quart) Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid (or other heavy-duty pot just large enough to hold the fish snugly), heat the oil over high heat until it shimmers.

Add the shallot, ginger matchsticks, and garlic. Sauté for 1 min., stirring constantly. Add the celery and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the chile and continue to sauté, stirring, until the celery starts to soften, about 2 min. Add the chicken broth and heat for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and arrange the rolled fish in a single layer over the celery mixture. Pour the coconut milk over the fish and turn the heat to high. As soon as the coconut milk comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer until the fish is opaque and cooked through, 8 to 10 min. If you’re unsure, flake apart a section to see if it’s done. Remove the pot from the heat.

Carefully transfer the fish with a slotted spoon or fish spatula to a small, warm platter.

Return the pot to high heat. Add the remaining basil, along with the scallions, fish sauce, lime juice, mirin, and lime zest. Bring the broth just to a simmer. Taste the broth and add more salt or mirin if needed.

For each serving, place a small mound of hot jasmine rice in a shallow bowl, top with a fish roll, and remove the toothpick. Ladle the hot broth over each fish roll and serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with Steamed Jasmine Rice.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings; Calories (kcal): 320; Fat (g): fat g 10; Fat Calories (kcal): 90; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 6; Protein (g): protein g 34; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 21; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 910; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 85; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

delicious thai infused fish at home ! definitely restaurant worthy, even tho had no flounder ( used walleye, also called pike ), basmati rice, and " normal " basil- quite a bit of prep work, so not that quick, but definitely worth it- even my picky teenager ate it all..

Excellent! I was amazed at the complexity of flavor for a rather simple preparation. I am trying it again with wahoo, as I feel it would be good with most seafood.

Fantastic! Delicious and fast; made the whole thing in the time it took the rice to cook. The broth tasted elegant and complex but obviously was not, we made it for a weeknight supper and will again.

Absolutely delicious and highly recommended. It was a bit time consuming with all the prep work, but well worth the outcome.

I don't really like fish. I expected this to be "tolerable" when I brought it to the table. (I needed to use up a bunch of my garden basil). Then my husband and I proceeded to devour it. I can't believe how tasty this is, and will be making it again very soon.

I have made this dish 3 times now and it is great!! I even switch types of fish for instance halibut fillets.

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