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Flatfish: The fresh choice for summer menus

Flatfish: The fresh choice for summer menus

When the sun comes out, everyone wants to eat lighter. Fish dishes rise up the menu and become champions of the specials board. While everything foraged from the sea becomes popular about now, particular attention needs to be given to flatfish, which is abundant at this time of year.

Portion-sized whole flatfish are easier to deal with when it comes to foodservice and cooking with the skin on and bones still in place not only leaves the diner with a better tasting piece of fish, but retains much more moisture, trapping those mineraly, oceanic, fish juices within.

The thing is, summer offers up an abundance of amazing fresh flavours, that all work perfectly with flatfish. Light buttery sauces flecked with fragrant green herbs, the acidity of some capers and a sharp hit of lemon juice.

Turbot is the king of flatfish, a substantial, meaty specimen ideal for sharing, and works great in place of pork, lamb or beef as a Sunday roast alternative. For more individual portions, look to Dover and Lemon Sole, Dab and Brill.

Deep-water flatfish such as Megrim and Witch are getting a bit more attention these days, and rightly deserve a place on the menu roster. These fish are currently very popular in mainland Europe, and have started to get some UK following too.

Dredging is one of the best ways to prepare flat fish. Dragging the fish through a beaten egg wash, before a mix of flour, sea salt and cracked black pepper, gives you a shatteringly crisp outer to the succulent fish inside. A contrast in texture that’s a sure-fire win no matter what you put alongside it. The flour dredge is perfect for playing around with; spices like cayenne work very well in this mix, as do Indian spice blends like garam masala and chaat masala – which contains amchoor, a powder made from dried mangoes.

So when you start to see punters getting a little overenthusiastic about the sunshine, prematurely wearing short-shorts and skirts, offer them a table in a warm corner and draw their attention to your flatfish dishes. They have the ability to deliver a huge refreshing kick of summer, even when the weather doesn’t.