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Flounder Poached in Coconut, Ginger & Basil Broth

Scott Phillips

Servings: six.

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

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on six servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 320
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 90
  • Fat (g): 10
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Cholesterol (mg): 85
  • Sodium (mg): 910
  • Carbohydrates (g): 21
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 34


  • 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.

Serve with Steamed Jasmine Rice.


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.


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Reviews (13 reviews)

  • The_Inept_Chef | 05/20/2020

    Fine Cooking, you've knocked me out with this one. Made it with shrimp (had it in the freezer with my other pandemic purchases). I could drink this sauce on its own.

  • chefwannabe | 08/07/2019

    I was looking for a new way to use fresh Thai basil that I'd grown in an outdoor pot and this recipe fit the bill! I used haddock instead of flounder. Also, I confess I didn't use celery . Instead I substituted about 2 cups of prepackaged coleslaw. I think any number of vegetables would work well...snow peas and/or chopped red pepper. Poaching the fish made it super easy!

  • SoCo18 | 12/11/2017

    Amazing! Next time I would make with more fish and celery because you really need their natural sweetness to balance the lime/ginger. The family loved it though and I will definitely make it again

  • G_MaBecky | 07/21/2016

    This was SO GOOD! I had to substitute cod for the flounder because I couldn't find any around here. It is thicker, so it was a little challenge rolling it and pinning it together with the toothpicks, but it worked just fine.

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