Sautéed Flounder with Pickled Spring Onions

Paul is one of those chefs you always want to hang out with. We spend hours talking about music, beer, life, and above all what he calls “honest” food. This recipe is proof that it doesn’t take much to create a memorable meal. The heroes here are fish, lettuce and the delicate, citrusy Cancale N.11 spice blend; when you taste them together, you’ll want to make this dish again and again.

Cancale N.11– Recipe by Paul Kahan, from “The Art of Blending” by Lior Lev Sercarz

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 red or white spring onions (or 8 scallions)
½ cup Champagne vinegar
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Four 6-ounce portions of boneless flounder, sole or skate wing
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Cancale N.11 spice blend
2 small heads Little Gem or romaine hearts, separated into dark-green leaves and light-green hearts
Hazelnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

1. Pickle the onions or scallions: Remove the root and outer membrane; using all of the white parts and about 3 inches of the green parts, slice the onions on the bias into ¼ -inch pieces. Place the onions in a Mason jar.

2. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, then pour over the onions. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

3. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season both sides with half of the Cancale spice blend and black pepper.

4. In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed oil until just smoking. Add the fish and cook over high heat until golden brown on one side, about 1 minute. Turn the fish over, add the butter and, when the butter begins to foam, baste the fish with it until the fish is cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the fish to a plate; leave the butter in the skillet and remove the skillet from the heat.

5. Add the dark-green lettuce leaves to the skillet and gently toss in the browned butter until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Divide the wilted lettuce among the plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle with the remaining Cancale. In a small bowl, combine the light-green lettuce leaves with a few pinches of the pickled scallions. Dress gently with hazelnut oil and a little of the pickling liquid, if desired. Top each plate with the salad and serve.