Fluke and flounder, both of fish, have oval shaped flat body, and they look alike very much. One side of the fish is dark brown in color and, the other side, very white. This is the side, which always stays on the bed of the sea. When you place fluke and flounder belly side facing you, fluke has its head on the left side, and flounder, on the right side. You also notice difference in size and shape of each fish’s head and mouth. Fluke has larger head and mouth than flounder.
Fluke’s “shun” – time to enjoy for its best flavor – is from November through February. Flounder’s “shun” is from April through October. However, even later month’s flounder is also prized, because the fish carries meaty, delicious eggs.
Fluke and flounder has very lean white flesh, and the flavor of these fish is mild. But, when it comes to the texture, fluke and flounder does not share any similarity. Fluke is excellent for sushi and sashimi preparation to enjoy its firm and smooth texture. Flounder, whose flesh is rather tender and rougher, is suited to be braised or deep-fried.
Here is a popular recipe for braising winter flounder with its impressive egg. Fish and egg cooked in sake, sugar and shoyu produce rich, delicious flavor. This may be a new flavor experience for you, but you must try it! Serve the fish with a glass of warmed yamahai sake. The dish definitely needs good acidity in sake.
Karei-no-nitsuke (Braised flounder)
1 flounder, headed, cleaned and cut into four pieces crosswise (see the photos)
4 slices peeled ginger
1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons shoyu
4 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled and julienned
Lima beans, cooked – optional
Bring a plenty water to a gentle boil in a large pot. Carefully add the fish pieces and bring it to a gentle simmer again. Count about 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and transfer the pot to a sink. Carefully discard the water from the pot. Remove the fish pieces, one at a time, with a flat, thin spatula and transfer them onto a platter.
In a kettle bring about 2 cups water to a boil. Clean the pot and add the sake and put it over the stove top. Turn on the heat and bring it to a gentle simmer. Add the fish and ginger slices to the pot. Add the boiling water to the pot. The hot water should barely cover the fish. Add the sugar to the pot. Cover the top of the fish with a parchment paper and cook it for 10 minutes. Make sure that the parchment paper is placed directly on top of the fish. Add the shoyu, and cook, covered with the parchment paper for 15 minutes.
Serve the fish garnished with julienned ginger.