Whenever I return from a trip, I come back inspired to cook something from that area’s cuisine. October was a hectic month for me that included business travel to Baltimore and personal travel to Austin, Texas, and the spectacular wine country of northern California.
Here’s the Baltimore-inspired dish — crab-stuffed flounder. I’ll share inspired recipes from Texas and the California wine country in future posts.
Crab-stuffed flounder is a classic dish that you might find at local fish counters ready to bake or in the freezer section boxed and ready to heat through. However, it’s an easy dish to prepare at home for an elegant dinner for two.
The crab filling contains fresh ingredients such as shallot and red bell pepper that are cooked briefly until softened. The rest of the filling is what you’ll find in a classic Maryland crabcake and which you probably already have on hand: Worcestershire, mayonnaise, dry mustard, Old Bay seasoning (now available in a reduced-sodium version) and saltine crackers.
The folks in Baltimore and anyone I’ve known from Baltimore appear to be pretty passionate about their crabmeat. One Baltimore native I know who currently lives in the Memphis area has Maryland crabmeat shipped to her several times a year. When I purchase crabmeat locally, I check to make sure it’s a wild-caught product from the U.S. and avoid anything imitation.
Flounder fillets work well to stuff and roll because the fillets are thin and long. They are always available frozen and available fresh at various times of the year.
A creamy wine-based sauce that cooks alongside the fish adds to the ease of preparation. Serve with rice pilaf or orzo pasta and any green vegetable.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Cayenne pepper, to taste
4 saltine crackers, finely crushed
½ cup crabmeat, picked over for shells
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 (8-ounce) flounder fillets
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
Lemon slices, for serving
Parsley springs, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in small saute pan over medium heat. Add shallot and red bell pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes or until very soft, stirring often and being careful not to brown. Transfer vegetables and any remaining butter from the pan to a small bowl.
Add the parsley, Worcestershire, mayonnaise, dry mustard, Old Bay, cayenne, crackers, crab and salt and pepper to taste.
Rinse fish fillets and pat dry. Season fish with salt and black pepper. Place the fillets upside down so what was the skin side is facing up. Spread equal amounts of the filling on each fillet. Roll up and secure with a toothpick if necessary.
Coat a baking dish with butter. Combine the wine, cream and flour in the baking dish and mix well. Place the fish in baking dish and top evenly with remaining butter.
Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and fish is cooked through to 155 degrees in the center. Stir the sauce before serving. Serve drizzled with the sauce, lemon slices and garnished with parsley springs.