Pistachio-Crusted Flounder with Minneola-Ginger Beurre Blanc

You would think that, living on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I would have boundless access to all kinds of fresh off the boat seafood. That beautiful and succulent jumbo shrimp jump right out of the water and into my frying pan? That sumptuous filets, still quivering and warm from the sea, lie in wait for their chance to bask in my oven? That's what I would think. But, if you did, you'd be wrong, wrong WRONG!

In reality, there are very few seafood markets in my area where you can consistently buy a variety of super fresh fish. The few that do exist are either pretty far out of my way or have quality control issues. Either way, I usually end up buying my fish and seafood from the supermarket, just like many of you probably do. I think that really sucks!

It wasn't always this way. I can remember years ago, when there were several little local fish shacks dotting the coastline. They were mostly Mom and Pop establishments where Pop was out early on the fishing boat, scoring the catch while Mom waited to clean, prep and sell the fish in the shop. True, the selection was limited to whatever was abundant in the Gulf of Mexico that day, but you knew where it came from and it was always ridiculously fresh. It was sustainable, local food before we even knew what that was!

Whenever I do shop for fish, I always try to get the freshest, nicest product I can find. I buy domestic or even local whenever I can. There's a little dance I do with the fish guy at my local market. I'll stroll up to the counter and he'll ask if he can help me. Then, I'll ask what came in fresh that same day, because you know as well as I do, that by the time a piece of fish has made its way to the supermarket display case, it is already past its prime. The fish guy will rattle off a few names and I'll squint my eyes (like I'm thinking really hard) and pace up and down along the case, evaluating the fish. Then, I'll ask him to take a couple of the different fishes out of the case so that I can smell them, after which, I'll wrinkle my nose and say "Nope." Then, and only then, will I finally make my selection. Just after Mr. Fish Guy puts my fish in the plastic bag, I'll say, "Um...and can I please smell that one too before you wrap it up?". He'll give me a look that says, "Oh phuck you. I'm not getting paid enough to put up with this crap!", and hand over the bag. It's amazing, but as I wheel my cart away, he always manages to tell me to have a nice day! He's probably just glad to get rid of me.

The other day I was able to get my hands on some beautiful flounder filets. I love flounder because of its mild, slightly sweet flavor and lovely flaky texture. It's also a nostalgia thing, because my mom made flounder all the time when I was a kid. I decided that I wanted some kind of crunchy topping or coating for it, so I entered my own personal Bermuda Triangle - my pantry - and rooted around to see what would work. I found panko, almonds, pecans and pistachios. I grabbed the panko and pistachios and got to work.

I processed the nuts until they were just coarsely ground and mixed them with the panko, some dried parsley and dried onion bits. Then, I seasoned and floured my filets, dipped them in egg and coated them with the panko-nut mixture. I pan fried them in some olive oil and served them with a fabulous butter sauce that I made with shallots, white wine, cream and fresh Minneola juice. It was out. of. this. world!

That butter sauce was so good, it deserves its own paragraph or two. What I did was take a recipe for a basic beurre blanc, which traditionally has lemon in it, and swap out the lemon juice for minneola juice. Wondering what the hell a Minneola is? I'm glad you asked.
The Minneola tangelo is a specific hybrid citrus fruit that is made by crossing the "Duncan" grapefruit and the “Darcy” tangerine, (a mandarin orange). It was developed in Florida by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1931. The Minneola combines the sweetness of the mandarin with the tart flavors of the grapefruit. It is a bell-shaped fruit with vibrant red-orange color. The Minneola does best in mild climates like Florida, and is widely available from December through February.

Using the Minneola juice gave the sauce a delicate sweet orange flavor. I also added a little ground ginger to balance out the sweetness with a little spice. It was really, really good! I think that any kind of orange or tangerine would work well with this sauce. I used the Minneola because I had some in the fridge. I'm so glad I did! This is definitely one for the "Keeper" file!

Pistachio Crusted Flounder with Mineola-Ginger Beurre Blanc
Serves 4 delicate flowers or 3 normal people

(Printable Version)

For the fish:

1/4 cup olive oil
6 flounder filets
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely ground
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp dried minced onion
salt and pepper
Minneola Beurre Blanc (recipe follows)

Season fish with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil, 2 tbsps at a time, in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Put flour in a plate for dredging and eggs in a bowl for dipping. Set aside.

Mix together panko, nuts, parsley and onion in a wide shallow bowl or baking dish.

Dredge each filet in flower and dip in egg to coat. Then, coat with the panko mixture, gently pressing the coating to make it stick.

Saute the filets in the skillet, about 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Add the additional oil as needed for frying. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Plate the fish on a nice platter and drizzle with the beurre blanc.

For the Beurre Blanc:

1/4 cup minced shallot
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbsp fresh Minneola juice
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
6 tbsp softened butter, cut into chunks
salt and pepper to taste

Combine shallots, wine and juice in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue on a low boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3.

Stir in cream and ginger and simmer until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, one chunk at a time, until fully incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

Check out what some other bloggers are doing with fish:


Patsyk said…
That fish looks wonderful! I can't wait to give it a try - soon as I find some really fresh fish. Same problem... in NJ you'd think we have access to wonderfully fresh fish every day, but I buy it at the grocery and if I even think it has an odor I walk away.
Anonymous said…
my god that looks good

ill be on the gulf coast of fl in 2 weeks and there is one of those little mom and pop fishy guys near my parents house in englewood...he puts a wagon out in front of his house on days when he has been out fishing so people know to stop in....we have gotten some amazing stuff from him esp blue crabs.last april we got 1 dozen giant blue crabs for $10...juiciest tastiest crabs i ever had.
Oh that looks soooo good!

I can't believe that you can't get fresh seafood???!!! We are really lucky around here I guess. I even have the cell phone number of the guys with the shrimp boat that I have talked about so I can pre-place my order and have it waiting at the dock for me!
Peter M said…
We're on the same wavelength, I too had some fish tonight with a pistachio crust...dang it was good!

As for you not getting fresh seafood, ask some locals for help...there has to be a spot where you can get the freshest in your 'hood.
Elly said…
holy cow, that looks amazing! i love pretty much anything covered in pistachios ;)
test it comm said…
That looks really good. A nice and crispy crust with a creamy sauce and citrus. I have never had a Minneola though.
RecipeGirl said…
Sounds really refreshing and spring-like with the citrus sauce. I LOVE fish that is encrusted with nuts. Nice job!!
Manggy said…
Oh Susan, that's such an extremely sad story for me... Any idea what happened to the MomNPop shops? (It's all very "You've Got Mail"...)

Anyway, that looks scrumptious! Flounder? Good! Panko? Good! Nuts? Good! Fried? Effin' GREAT!!! :)
Susan this sounds so good, makes me want to look for some mineola's!
That looks super yummy. IF you had any leftovers, I bet those would make KILLER fish tacos w/cabbage. I'm getting hungrrrry.
I figured you for a spear fisherwoman.......I can't believe you don't catch your own. I am deflated. I can see you now.....in your water shoes, tankini, snoopy life vest, water wings and a pole going out to catch the big one.
Gretchen Noelle said…
Great idea! I should just ask Sr. Pescado what arrive that same day! I am always wary of buying the fish, not knowing if in fact it is fresh or not.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Patsy- Glad you like it! I guess it is a pervasive problem. :(

Ann Marie- How cool is that! Englewood is now the way Sarasota was 20 years ago. It is also close to Boca Grande, which is a big fishing area. I'm not surprised that you found your fish guy there. Unfortunately, that is about an hour drive from me and I just don't have the time to make a trip like that to get fish.

You should let me know when you get to your parents' place. Maybe we could hook up and have lunch one day. :)

Judy- Believe it! There used to be a few places out on Siesta Key, but no more. I think that you can still catch the fishing boats come in down at Venice Pier, but that is at least a 30 minute drive from me. I'll have to investigate a little deeper. Maybe I'm missing something.

Peter- Great minds think alike! Our town is very cosmopolitan (read-snooty). The powers that be are more interested in the opera, museums and $500/plate charity balls. They have been trying to squeeze out the little roadside entrepreneurs for years. But, maybe I haven't searched in the right places.

Elly- Thanks! I agree about the pistachios!

Kevin- If you ever find Minneolas, give them a try. They are incredible sweet and juicy, with hardly any seeds. I like them better than oranges!

RecipeGirl- Thank you! I was really happy with the whole combo. Fish, citrus and nuts go well together.

Manggy- The Mom and Pops got crushed by "progress". Condo developers started buying up all the land they could find and putting up ridiculously overpriced condos that only the smallest percentage could afford. Now, they can't unload them! Believe it or not, historical buildings and beautiful parks have been demolished in the middle of the night to make way for downtown office buildings, etc., with no consequences. It's all about the money here.

Marie- Thanks! I think that the Minneolas are fading out now. I'll see if I can still find them.

Obsessive- Fish tacos!!! Shit! I did have leftovers and did not think of that. That would have been awesome.

A spear fisherwoman? Lol! Honey, my idea of "roughing it" is a hotel with no room service!

Gretchen- Thanks! I always ask and smell. Even if they tell you it is fresh, it has to pass the "nose test"! ;)
amycaseycooks said…
Looks amazing - i am always on the lookout for a neew sauce to try. this one will be for next week thanks.
If I lived on the coast I would get truly fresh seafood there...salmon, halibut...Since I don't, it's flown in here every day which adds to the cost. What I wouldn't do to head down to the docks at Steveston and pick up some fresh seafood to make this dish. Of course flounder would not be fresh here but this dish would work with halibut:D
Ginny said…
Looks amazing! I'm always looking for a new way to cook fish...and a minneola, I'm intrigued! I wonder if I could find one!
Allen said…
Great use of your mineolas! I don't think I've had one since I left Michigan and moved westward.
Anonymous said…
Mmmm....look at that flaky, crumbly fish flesh! Delish! We have a tangerine tree , now all we need is some good fish! Minneola's are great too and as a matter of fact, a friend just gave us a couple the other day!
Looks delish. I know what you mean about fresh food in this area, I live in Dunedin but I moved here from the S.F. Bay area and grocery shopping was a bit of a let down here. But we do have good citrus!
LOL, I hear ya....I always tell my husband that the ONLY place I camp is the Marriott w/some trees in the parking lot.
Susan @ SGCC said…
EAT!- Thank you! This was a really nice sauce, and it was easy to make. Any kind of citrus would work. I've made it with lime before too.

Valli- I have made this with halibut and it is great. I actually looked for that the other day, but the store didn't have any.

Ginny- Thanks! I don't remember where you are, but when exported, minneolas are also sometimes called Honeybell tangelos. Good luck.

Allen- Thank you! I'm sure you could find these in CA. You can find everything there!

WoR Couple- Thanks! You guys are so sweet! You should try this, if you can resist eating the minneolas plain!

S...GF- Thanks and welcome! I'm so glad you liked the dish. Dunedin is just a hop from here! I used to live in St. Pete years ago.

Obsessive- ...and they better be really pretty trees too! ;)
Love, love, love flounder. I actually haven't bought it in a long time but this has made me want it again.. Great job!
Cakelaw said…
Beautiful flavours Susan - I will have to look out for tangelos.
Heather said…
Okay, I'm only saying this because I am very anal retentive about sauces: what you made is not a beurre blanc, it's a beurre nantais. Beurre blanc has no cream. There! I said it!

It still looks amazing, Susan. Don't mind me. I get a little crazy about this stuff.

Whenever I go to the coast, I bring a cooler just in case, but usually I hafta buy an entire, huge fish from a guy off his boat to get fresh seafood. 18 lbs. is just too much tuna. :P
Susan @ SGCC said…
Aran- Thank you! I'm glad you like the dish. :)

Cakelaw- Thanks! I hope you find some.

Heather- Thanks for clearing that up.
That looks amazing! I have not made a crusted fish in a while and this looks like a fresh new way I will definitely have to try!!!
tigerfish said…
Perfect crusted flounder!
I also like tad of citrus and zang-a-tang-tang in my grilled/oven baked fish fillets!
I can't stop eating minneolas, Susan. And pistachios on fish too? This recipe is calling out to me.

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