Flounder doesn’t show up that often at the La Cruz Fish Market, so when Russ saw it there this morning, he bought a kilo. I was working in my kitchen lab, perfecting fish sandwiches on bolillos (Mexican yeast rolls) when he came back, bag in hand. It hadn’t been that long since breakfast, but the idea of fish sandwiches featuring flounder suddenly worked up the appetite. Freshly baked bolillos and chipotle chile would help us celebrate Cinco de Mayo in our own small way, but where it counts — at the kitchen table.
If you don’t find flounder (lenguado in Spanish) at your local fish market, any boneless, white fish fillets will work well for this recipe. Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Guide (see Link at top of page) to help you make an ocean-friendly purchase or to find other resources to help make wise decisions, see The Pescatarian’s Dilemma.
You don’t want fish bones in a sandwich. To detect bones, run your finger tips across the fillet surface. Remove bones by grabbing the ends with fine pliers or tweezers and gently pull them out.
Fish Sandwich with Chipotle Tartar Sauce
The elements for this recipe are tomatoes and lettuce, chipotle tartar sauce, toasted Mexican bolillos or other rolls or bread, and sautéed fish fillets.
Chipotle Tartar Sauce makes enough for 3 sandwiches
- 1/2 cup (120 ml.) mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons (11 grams) canned chipotle chile with adobo sauce, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) onion, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) dill pickle, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) dill pickle juice
Blend all ingredients and refrigerate. Be sure to mince chipotle chile finely, as large bites of heat may surprise the unwary diner.
Sautéed Fish Fillets
- 6 oz. (170 grams) fish fillet per sandwich
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) flour per fillet
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- vegetable oil
- 1 bolillo, or yeasted bread roll, or 2 slices of whole grain bread per sandwich
- Mix flour with salt and pepper. Dredge fillets in flour, coating the entire fillet well. Shake off excess flour.
- Heat skillet over medium heat and add vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering, place fillets in pan and sauté 8-9 minutes per inch of thickness, turning halfway through cooking time. Do not over-cook.
- While fillets are cooking, cut bolillos or rolls in half, brush with olive oil and toast in a hot skillet, cut side down, until golden.
Spread each half generously with chipotle tartar sauce, arrange tomato slices, lettuce, and fillet on toasted bolillo and top with remaining toasted bread. Eat while hot.
Here’s a little run-down on the history of Cinco de Mayo. On May 5, 1862, the Mexican army defeated the French in a bloody effort to end French occupancy. That day, they won the battle, but not the war. It would take another five years for the French to withdraw, leaving behind the luckless Emperor Maximilian. Cinco de Mayo is usually a quiet day in Mexico. It is the Hispanic communities and the grocery stores in the US that commemorate this day, the Hispanic communities with fiestas, the grocery stores with beer and salsa specials.
Cook fish 8-9 minutes per each inch of thickness. Undercooked fish can always be returned to the skillet; overcooked fish is a tragedy.
Chipotle chiles, which are dried, smoked jalapeño chiles, come canned in adobo sauce. The sauce ingredients are tomato, vinegar, garlic and spices. It is muy picante and adds a unique mexicanismo flavor to dishes.
Whoops, I see a little photographic faux-pas. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a Mexican victory over France, and the tablecloth motif in my first photo is of fleur-de-lis, the symbol of France.