I love fish tacos. Two of my favorite things, freshly caught fluke and seasonal summer veggies right off the vine, I combine both in this Cadillac of tacos.
Summer fluking is usually a guarantee for a nice day on the ocean. If the wind, tide and water temperature are working in your favor almost everyone will catch something. It is an easy type of fishing to teach to beginners.
Fluke are flatfish, like flounder, but bigger and with formidable teeth. The summer flounder feeds on fish, squid and shrimp. Their meat is tender, flaky and has a slightly sweet taste. You can use nearly any fish in this recipe, but freshly caught fluke is a special summer treat.
Also called Summer Flounder, this species may reach a maximum size of 3 feet long and 26 pounds. It is called a “left-sided” flatfish because both of its eyes are on the left side of its head. This fish rests on the sea bottom, using color adaptation to blend in with its surroundings. It will partially bury itself in the bottom sand and sediments for camouflage before striking unsuspecting prey. Fish over ten pounds are sometimes called doormats.
Summer flattie fishing gets going with a few sporadic fluke in late May as the shallow waters warm. By Memorial Day, things are generally in full swing. Some very impressive fluke to 9 pounds or better are taken each spring and the amount of bait, from spearing and squid to snappers, is what keeps these doormats happy and looking for an easy meal. Areas to look are along the Ambrose Channel, Jamaica Bay near the Floyd Bennett Field area, Mill Basin out to Coney and any of the flats of the area as these fluke chase bait up into skinny water. Spearing, squid or killies are all ambushed by summer flounder. A few miles offshore, doormats can be plentiful in August off eastern L.I. Many party boats in Sheepshead Bay, Long Island and down the Jersey Shore have full and half day trips. Check local listings for times.
If you are lucky enough to catch enough fillets for dinner, here is a recipe for fluke tacos that will do your bounty right.
Tip of the Day!- To preserve the clean, crisp taste of your fluke fillets (or any fish you freeze) throughout the year, never let the fillets touch chlorinated water until the final rinse before cooking. All party boats provide filleting service to customers. Tipping $5-20 depending on the number of fish being cleaned. Bring a clean 2 quart jug and fill with ocean water. Clean your fillets in this water before zip locking or when preparing for long term freezing. Now will you be good!
Fresh Fluke Tacos
2 fillets fluke (skinless, 8 oz each) cut into four pieces
1 tsp old bay seasoning
Place fillets in sealable containers. Squeeze juice of one lemon and one lime onto the fillets. Sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning evenly over fish on both sides. Return to fridge for 1-2 hours.
Pan Fried Fluke: Heat large non-stick pan to medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Place the four fillets in heated pan with spacing. Cook for four minutes on each side at most.
For Grilled Fluke: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Prepare one large piece of foil for pouch. Alternate slices of lemon and lime making a blanket for the fillets on the foil and top with the fluke. Season the fillets with Old Bay or salt & pepper. You can add a tablespoon of olive oil or a dab of butter here, too. close up and place on the grill, cover and allow to cook until the fish is opaque and flakes with a fork, about 10 minutes.
Remove the packets from the grill or pan and let sit for one minute. Using a fork, break into smaller pieces for tacos.
PINEAPPLE MANGO SALSA
This recipe can be made hours of even days in advance if you like. It will keep all summer and do nothing but get better with time.
2 ripe mangos, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium fresh pineapple (cleaned and chopped) or canned in juice chopped
½ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1-3 pickled jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 large lime, juiced (about ¼ cup lime juice)
¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
1 tsp sugar (brown, if you have)
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
In a serving bowl, combine the prepared mango, pineapple, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and jalapeño. Drizzle with the juice of one lime and mix well with brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with salt. For best flavor, let the salsa rest for 10 minutes or longer.
This should be done just before serving. A light alternative to guacamole.
1/2 cup sour cream
1 ripe avocado (peeled, pitted, roughly chopped)
1/2 lemon (juiced)
Kosher salt, pepper (to taste)
a dash of hot sauce, if you like
In the blender or food processor, add the sour cream, avocado, lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Blend until smooth.
For the Charred Tortillas: 4 small white corn tortillas (griddled on stove or grill to serve, 5-inch) Place the tortillas on the grill and allow to cook until lightly charred and warmed through. You can also you blue corn tortillas or the ones leftover from that kit you bought.
To Serve: Place a warm tortilla down, top with a piece of fish with Salsa and a drizzle of crema. Repeat and serve! Of course you can add peppers, tomatoes and greens to you hearts desire. Garnish with you last lime.
Say hello to the Cadillac of Taco Tuesday’s!