Garlicky Baked Flounder with Spicy Napa Cabbage
If you are someone who eats fish as long as it doesn't taste "fishy," then this baked flounder will be perfect for you! Flounder is a subtle tasting fish that absorbs the flavors of the ingredients that it's paired with. I tend to like more pungent flavors - which means that garlic, ginger, and scallions are a must in this dish. These stronger flavors are balanced out with sweet red bell peppers, meaty mushrooms, and a mildly sweet sauce - creating the perfect amount of deliciousness.
Originally I made a coconut rice to pair with this dish - which was really tasty. But the coconut took away from the terrific flavors in the flounder. In the end, I found that just placing the baked fish on top of brown basmati rice was the perfect way to let this flounder shine.
Flounder is one of the more affordable fish options, and is categorized by the National Resources Defense Council as "Least Mercury." Meaning that among the seafood that's out there, it contains one of the lowest amounts of mercury. You can also substitute another mild tasting white fish for this dish. Being in the Midwest, I often buy frozen fish and typically save money in the process.
Given that there's a tremendous amount of overfishing in the world, in addition to the harm that is caused to marine life and our environment through some fishing practices, I prefer to purchase fish that's labeled by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as, "Certified Sustainable Seafood." While flounder is overfished in different parts of the world, the Marine Stewardship Council's website states, "Arrowtooth flounder caught in Alaska is a "Best Choice," and it’s a "Good Alternative," when it’s caught on the U.S. West Coast and in British Columbia, Canada." The website further adds, "The stocks are healthy in Alaska and British Columbia. The stocks are probably healthy on the U.S. West Coast, but they haven’t been assessed recently." If you're interested, here's a link to find certified sustainable flounder, and other seafood that is also labeled as sustainable.
So that's a lot about sustainable fish and where to find it! Let's move on to cabbage! My spicy Napa cabbage side dish can be prepared in a matter of minutes! This Chinese cabbage naturally has a mild flavor. To make it spicy, I added 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger and a dash of red pepper flakes. But if you don't want the heat, you can just add one teaspoon of ginger - and completely skip the red pepper flakes - for a more mild hit of flavor. The garlic of course makes this dish even more scrumptious, as does the teaspoon of low-sodium soy sauce. SO EASY! Napa cabbage is also delicious in raw salads, and offers some variety when you're in the mood for some greens. Here's a video for how to easily chop Napa cabbage. To read more about cabbage in general, click here.
I'd love to know in the comment section below what some of your favorite fish dishes are! Happy cooking - and eating!
Yield: 4 servings
Garlicky Baked Flounder:
2 tablespoons agave syrup (Or honey)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil (Or olive oil)
4 (5 to 7 ounce) portions flounder (If purchased frozen, thawed and patted dry)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic (Around 6 cloves)
1/2 cup minced scallions, green part, divided
2-inch knob ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced in long strips
Spicy Napa Cabbage:
1 tablespoon canola oil (Or olive oil)
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
10 cups Napa cabbage, chopped into strips that are a few inches wide and as thick or thin as you prefer (Around 2 1/2 pounds)
1/4 teaspoon dry red pepper flakes (Optional)
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Then, spray the inside of a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or oil, and set aside.
2. Make the sauce for the flounder. In a small bowl, combine the agave syrup, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce. When the sauce is well combined, remove two tablespoons of the sauce from the bowl - reserving the two tablespoons for when the fish is cooked. Set aside.
3. Prepare the flounder. Brush one side of each piece of fish with the oil. Then, place the fish in the baking dish, oiled side down. Season the flounder with a dash of salt and pepper. Next, top each piece of fish with the minced garlic, scallions, sliced ginger, mushrooms, and the bell pepper strips. Using a spoon, pour the sauce from the bowl onto each piece of fish that's laying in the baking dish (Still saving the 2 tablespoons of reserved sauce for when the fish is cooked). Cover the baking dish, and bake until the fish is cooked through (Around 12-14 minutes. The fish will be flaky when it's done). About 5 minutes before the fish is done baking, start cooking the chopped Napa cabbage.
4. Cook the chopped Napa cabbage. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet using the medium-high setting. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic, stirring constantly for around 30 seconds. Next pour in the soy sauce - and slowly add the chopped cabbage - stirring constantly for about 30 seconds. Then add the tablespoon of water to the cabbage, stir two times, and cover for 3 minutes (The leaves will be tender and the stems will be crispy when it's done). Remove from heat and stir a couple of times. Taste it. If you want to make the cabbage spicier, sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
5. Divide the baked fish onto four plates. If you don't enjoy biting into ginger, discard the ginger slices at this point. Then pour the reserved sauce on top of each piece of fish. Serve with the spicy Napa cabbage and a side of rice. Enjoy!
Note: The garlicky baked flounder recipe has been adapted from Rachael Ray's "Ginger-garlic fish in parchment."