Crisp flounder with field pea ragout and herb salad


Photo credit: Rinne Allen

I have had the paradoxical opportunity, over the past 3 months, to taste the dishes of some of America’s best contemporary chefs, right here in the heart of Milan. I have also been ruthlessly immersed in work, and recently realized that I haven’t shared nearly enough of these delightful culinary experiences with all of you. So, over the next few weeks, I will be sharing profiles and recipes of some of the upcoming chefs at the James Beard Restaurant at Seven Stars Galleria.

This Friday and Saturday night, Hugh Acheson will be taking over the JBAR kitchen (menu and info here). Hugh is hot stuff. He is a James Beard award winner for Best Chef Southeast, was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine, is the author of several award-winning cookbooks, and currently stars as a judge on Top Chef. He hales from the true American South (Atlanta, Georgia) and is a chef/partner of the restaurants 5&10The NationalEmpire State South, and The Florence.

“My food philosophy is a constant curiosity for the culinary world dovetailed with respect for the region where I live…  Southern food is difficult to define. It is a cuisine with deep and rich historical roots that are unique from other regions in the United States, constantly evolving, changing with the seasons and flowing with the progression of the South. I like to pay homage to the history of the region and reflect the diverse cultures that exist in the South today through the food I cook.”

– Hugh Acheson


by Hugh Acheson | THE BROAD FORK

  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound fresh field peas*
  • 4 skinless flounder fillets (5 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, sliced into rings
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cut fresh chives (1-inch pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh pea shoots
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
Serves 4

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a soup pot over high heat. Season the water well with fine sea salt and add the field peas. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the field peas for 30 minutes or until they are tender. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface during cooking. When the peas are done, remove the pot from the stove and allow the peas, still in the cooking liquid, to cool to room temperature.

Season the flounder fillets with fine sea salt to taste. Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Dredge each flounder fillet in the flour and shake off any excess. Once the oil reaches a slight smoke, add the fillets, one at a time, and sauté for 4 minutes on one side. The fillets should develop an even, golden-brown color on the bottom. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan, turn the fish over, and just finish the cooking, about 1 minute.

Remove the fillets from the pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. (Do this in batches if the fillets don’t all fit at once.) Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the same pan, and cook the shallots over medium heat for 2 minutes or until they become slightly translucent.

While the shallots are cooking, drain the peas. Add the drained peas and the chicken stock to the shallots. Season with sea salt to taste. Stir to fully incorporate, finish with the lemon zest and juice, and heat through.

Divide the peas among 4 plates and top each with a flounder fillet. Toss the parsley, chives, tarragon, and pea shoots in a small mixing bowl, and season with sea salt and the olive oil. Arrange the herb salad on top of the flounder.

* field peas are only in season for a short time, so if you can’t find them use dried black-eyed peas instead, and increase the cooking time in step one.

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